Sunday, March 18, 2012

Balto Co Petition signature rules, instructions, and FAQs

Steps for gathering signatures for Baltimore County petitions

Read carefully before you begin collecting signatures!  The Board of Elections will invalidate any signature that does not follow the rules precisely - even on the seemingly smallest detail.

1. Print out the petition form with the signature page on one side and the bill language on the back.
     Be sure none of the letters are cut off when printed or photocopied.  STAPLING THE BILL LANGUAGE TO THE SIGNATURE PAGE IS NO LONGER PERMITTED.
2. Ask the signer: “Are you a registered voter in Baltimore County?”
     This is important because this is a Baltimore County petition, and only county residents may sign.  If they are from another county, tell them there are statewide petitions, and collect their contact info so we can send them to them. (See note at bottom on state petitions.)
3. Instruct the Baltimore County signer: “Print legibly and include first full name, middle initial and last name.”
     At a minimum, the requirements are for at least one full name, an initial if they have one, and last name.  IT DOES NOT HAVE TO MATCH VOTER REGISTRATION EXACTLY.  They must include their DOB, although the year can be omitted if they object, and full address which cannot be a P.O. Box.  If they ask, you may fill out the form for them so long as they sign, but only if they ask you to.
4. Review the entry before the signer leaves and correct any errors.
     It is not enough to give them the instructions, you must verify they followed them.  If any errors were made or the printing is illegible, have them correct it.  You can even cross out that entry and have them redo on the next signer space.
5. Ask the signer to provide their contact info so we can send them the bill language when it comes out.
     Using the Signers Contact Form, have them provide their email and phone.  Email is critical.
6. When your sheet is full, you as the Petition Circulator must fill out the information at the bottom and sign.
     Do not share petition pages with another circulator.  Your signature at the bottom indicates that you have personally witnessed all the petition signatures on the page.  If you are working a table at an event with other Circulators, each Circulator should have a clipboard with only their own petition pages they have witnessed.  The opposition could send people to watch for any mistakes being made.  YOUR SIGNATURE AND DATE MUST BE THE LAST THING TO BE FILLED OUT ON THE PAGE.  It cannot be dated later than any date of a signer above or the entire page will be invalidated.
7. If your sheet is not full, but you are turning it in to the petition organizers, draw an X through any remaining unused lines.
     This will eliminate the possibility of someone else accidentally writing on the sheet and dating it later than your signature.
8. Never cross out an entry unless you are replacing it with another by that voter.
     The task of invalidating signatures lies with the Board of Elections.  Our job is to prevent disenfranchisement and give the people the vote.  Only turn away signers if they are certain they are not registered to vote in Baltimore County.

9. When complete and as soon as possible, please mail all completed petitions and contact forms to:
The People's Veto, c/o Office Valet, 9 Schilling Road, Suite LL2 #601, Hunt Valley, MD  21031
Questions: or 443-595-7020 (leave message)
If you have petition pages for any state petitions, we will see that they get to the correct organizer.

If you are collecting for a statewide petition, signers should be separated by county on the petition sheets.  Please realize that the rules may vary slightly by county, as each county board adopts its own variations to the basic requirements.  Baltimore County Board of Elections is one of the better counties in terms of their efforts to guard against disenfranchisement.


What if the signer does not know if they are registered to vote?
Have them sign the petitions.  The Board of Elections (BOE) will invalidate them if they are not registered, but if they are, we don't want to disenfranchise them.  If you have voter registration forms, give them one.

What if the signer is physically handicapped and can't sign?
You may fill out the form for them when asked so long as they make their mark in the signature line.

What if they just moved into Balto Co but are still registered under their old address in another county?
Have them sign with their correct address.  The BOE will automatically change their registration information based on what they put down on the petition form.

If one signature is found to be invalid, will the whole page be tossed?
No.  The only reasons for eliminating the whole page are Circulator errors, such as failing to sign as a witness, or not having the bill language on the back of the petition form.

What if the signer isn't sure whether they already signed or not?
Have them sign.  The BOE will invalidate the second signature.  The law only prevents a signer from intentionally signing multiple times.

Do I have to be a Baltimore County resident to collect signatures?
No.  You don't even have to be registered to vote.  You merely must be 18 years of age.

What if the signer is age 17, but registered to vote since they will be 18 by November?
Have them sign.  The only stipulation is that they are registered to vote.

What if they just sent in a voter registration form?
Have them sign.  The BOE will invalidate them if the registration has not gone through.

What if they just got married and their name changed, but they are still registered under their old name?
Have them sign under their old name.

What if I can't read their writing?
Then the BOE can't either.  Cross out the entry and fill out the next entry for them when asked and have them sign.

What if they made a small error in filling out the form - can they cross out on the entry?
Yes, but if it gets too messy, cross out the entry and start again on the next entry.

What if they filled in the info on the wrong line, such as signing in the address line?
For Baltimore County, that's fine so long as the info is there.   Have them fill in the address in the signature line.  For other counties, cross out the entry and have them start a fresh one.


If you have specific questions you'd like answered, ask them in the comments area and I'll post answers.

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