In a new editorial, The Washington Post comes out strongly against term limits: “Twice in the past 16 years, voters in Montgomery County have rejected term limits for local elected officials. They should again by saying no on next month’s ballot to Questio B, which would set three-term limits for the county executive and members of the County Council.”
No On B chair Tom Moore is filing a petition for certiorari with Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. The petition asks the Court to take the case directly and bypass the Court of Special Appeals.
On the merits, the petition asks the Court of Appeals to decide whether (1) the lower court erred in allowing alterations to be made to petition entries by third parties long after the voter had signed the petition page, and (2) whether the lower court erred in applying the “substantial evidence” rule to the proceedings.
Join us on Sunday, October 9 from 4-7pm at Denizens in Silver Spring as we raise money to beat back the term-limits attack on progressive government in Montgomery County. See you there!
If you can’t make it and you’d still like to help out, just look to the right on this page to the “Donate” button and lend a hand! Thanks!
Group Finds a Great Many Invalid Signatures, Lowering Below Number Needed
For release: Friday, September 2, 2016
Contact: Tom Moore, email@example.com, 301-642-2976
Rockville resident Tom Moore, chair of “No On B,” the organization formed to oppose the effort to impose term limits on Montgomery County citizens, today filed a complaint in Montgomery County Circuit Court seeking to invalidate the term limit petition filed August 8 to place this question on the ballot.
Although Robin Ficker, the sponsor of this petition, claimed to have 18,000 signatures on his term limit petitions, the Montgomery County Board of Elections said more than 5,000 were invalid. More than 1,200 were signatures of people who are not registered voters in our county, and more than 900 were duplicates.
“No On B” performed a spot check of the signatures the board said were among the 12,573 valid signatures and found that many of them are not valid. Some have no signatures at all, just printed names and addresses, and many have dates that were obviously not written by those who were claimed to have signed the petitions.
Moore claims in his complaint with the Circuit Court that the term limits petition should be declared invalid for failing to have the required 10,000 legally valid signatures, and that the proposed charter amendment should not be placed on Montgomery County’s Nov. 8, 2016 General Election ballot.
“The people of Montgomery County have the right to see that the laws concerning petitions are followed,” said Moore, “just as they have the right to vote for candidates they feel are best equipped to represent them, no matter how many times those candidates have been elected before.”
Moore served two terms on the Rockville City Council from 2011 to 2015. He placed second in the 2014 Democratic primary for the Montgomery County Council’s 3rd District seat. He is the president-elect of the Common Cause Maryland board, and serves as a senior counsel for the Federal Election Commission.
The complaint may be found here.
More detail regarding the petition challenge may be found here.
No On B’s challenge to Robin Ficker’s attempt to impose term limits on the Montgomery County Council and Executive is moving ahead and is in very good shape. The Petition for Judicial Review is drafted and is being filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court today.
On August 8, Ficker submitted petition signatures in support of his proposed charter amendment. Ficker’s petition signatures were certified by the County Election Director on August 23 as Question B on Montgomery County’s November 8, 2016 general-election ballot. According to the Board of Elections, Ficker submitted 17,649 signatures, of which 12,573 were accepted and 5,076 were rejected (29%).
Upon a careful review of a sample of the petitions, we believe Ficker has not submitted 10,000 signatures that meet Maryland legal standards. Though there appear to be many types of infirmities in the entries scattered among the petitions, one is prominent throughout. Ficker’s petitions show strong signs of having had the date filled in by someone other than the petition signer…
…where each signature on the page appears to have been filled out by a single hand. This is simply not allowed under Maryland law and regulations, which require that:
To sign a petition, an individual shall…(2) include the following information, printed or typed, in the spaces provided:… (iii) the date of signing[.] (Md. Elections Code Ann., §6-203(a))
The individual signing the petition must provide this information; there is no authority to suggest that anyone else may do so. A petition gatherer may no sooner fill in the date for the signer than fill in the signer’s name or actual signature. Each piece of information must be printed or typed by the signer, not the gatherer.
Remarkably, 80-90% of the pages we have reviewed show a pattern similar to this. We are optimistic that these signatures will be struck by a court; petitioners are held to a very strict standard when challenged, and these entries simply do not meet the legal standard.
The petition’s woes are not confined to the signature dates. We were surprised to identify 19 separate ways in which entries accepted by the Board of Elections did not meet the legal standards. Some were as simple – and striking – as “OK”ed entries missing a signature:
In just an hour or so of examining a wide sample of the signature pages, a small group found at least 12 examples of incorrect signer names being approved by the Board of Elections, and 29 different other problems. This indicates strongly that there are serious systemic issues throughout the approved petition signatures.
If a court strikes more than 2,573 signatures, the proposed charter amendment will not go on the ballot this fall. It is past the deadline and too late for Ficker or anyone else to gather any more signatures.
While we had initially considered the signature challenge to be a dotting-the-I’s type of task that was unlikely to bear fruit, it may very well turn out that it wins the war.
WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show published a detailed blog entry on our plan to defeat term limits in Montgomery County this fall. Read it here.
The Washington Post’s Bill Turque has been all over the effort to restrict Montgomery County voters’ choices with term limits. Here’s a few of his articles:
- Montgomery term-limits opponent, elections board clash over fees, Aug. 24, 2016
- Head of anti-immigrant group says he gathered ‘hundreds’ of term-limits signatures, Aug. 9, 2016
- Signatures for term-limits amendment are delivered to Montgomery, Aug. 8, 2016
Turque reports that Ficker is not telling the truth about counting partial terms as full terms:
Ficker asserted that he included similar language in his 2000 and 2004 proposed amendments, long before he ran against Navarro or even knew who she was.
But a review of the two ballot questions shows no such provisions.
Navarro, the first Hispanic woman to serve on the council, said Monday that Ficker’s intent was “pretty clear.”
“If it passes, everybody gets three terms, but not the Latina woman,” Navarro said.
Greetings! You’ve reached the home of No On B. We are a group of Montgomery County citizens who seek to defeat the term-limits charter amendment that may appear as Question B on the ballot this fall in Montgomery County, Maryland.
We’re just getting our web presence together; while we’re doing that, please feel free to settle in and read an authoritative report by Paul Bessel and Barbara Braswell on the topic.
Bessel and Braswell favored term limits until they really started digging into them and found that the arguments in favor of term limits simply fail when tested in the real world. Enjoy!