Md. election board approves 87K signatures in effort to force referendum on Dream Act

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Maryland elections officials have approved more than 87,000 signatures in opposition to the state’s Dream Act, according to numbers released Monday by the state Board of Elections.

As of Monday afternoon, state officials had verified 87,073 voter signatures submitted by petitioners in an effort to force a November 2012 referendum on the law, which would allow many college-aged illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates.

Officials announced last week they had verified the 55,736 signatures necessary to send the law to referendum, but would continue reviewing all of the submitted signatures.

Petitioners turned in more than 132,000 signatures before their June 30 deadline, nearly 18,000 of which have been invalidated due to errors. About 27,000 remaining signatures must still be counted by July 22.

Pro-Dream Act groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and immigrant advocacy group CASA de Maryland are considering fighting the petition effort through lawsuits or by conducting their own signature counts.

The General Assembly passed the Dream Act in April after a close vote in the House. Efforts to repeal the law have been led by Delegate Neil C. Parrott, Washington Republican, and Delegate Pat McDonough, Baltimore Republican.

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