Balto. Co. Redistricting Foes: Ballot Challenge Unlikely

November 8, 2011

Baltimore County residents seeking a referendum on the County Council’s plans to redraw political lines say it’s unlikely they will gather enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

Members of the Liberty Road Community Council are considering filing a lawsuit to challenge the redistricting plan, though they haven’t worked out the details, executive director Ella White Campbell said Tuesday.

“That’s the only avenue we have left, is to pursue this legally,” she said Tuesday.

Campbell and other members of her group said they felt the county Board of Elections did not give them enough guidance on how to write the petition, and told them that two versions of petitions that they submitted had errors. The group believes many of the signatures already gathered are likely to be thrown out.

The residents seeking the referendum have until Nov.17 to gather about 9,700 signatures, White Campbell said. They would then need to get about 19,000 more within the next month.

“Time is not on our side,” said Aaron Barnett, a board member of the Liberty Road Community Council and president of the Powhatan Community Association.

County Board of Elections director Katie Brown could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Members of the Liberty Road group announced the petition drive a few days after County Council members approved the redistricting measure Oct. 3. Among other reasons for objecting to the legislation, the group said the plan unfairly split communities in the 4th District, which is the county’s only majority-minority district.

The Greater Towson Council of Community Associations later joined the petition drive because its members were unhappy with the County Council’s redistricting plans for their districts.

The county’s new political lines take effect in 2014.

Those seeking a referendum have not yet counted the number of signatures they’ve gathered, but believe they will fall short, White Campbell said. She added that another challenge has been people’s reluctance to put their birthdates on the petition, as required by law, because they’re worried about identity theft.

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