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Dream Act opponents collected 108,000 signatures

- The Washington Times - Friday, July 22, 2011

Organizers of a petition to suspend Maryland's Dream Act collected more than 108,000 signatures, state elections officials said Friday.

Opponents of the law, which would allow in-state tuition for many illegal immigrants, collected 108,923 valid voter signatures in an effort to send the law to referendum, according to a final count by the State Board of Elections.

The total nearly doubled the 55,736 votes needed to suspend the law and force a November 2012 statewide vote, making it Maryland's first successful statewide petition drive in 20 years.

"Today, the voters of Maryland have achieved a huge victory," Delegate Neil C. Parrott, Washington Republican and petition drive chairman, said Friday in a statement.

Petitioners began collecting signatures in mid-April and turned in more than 47,000 valid signatures on May 31, adding another 61,000 on June 30. They collected 132,000 signatures in all, about 23,000 of which were invalidated due to errors.

While the law appears almost certainly headed to referendum, Dream Act supporters have said they could challenge the petition.

Immigrant advocacy group CASA de Maryland has expressed interest in conducting its own review of signatures, while the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has said it might sue over petitioners' use of a website that allowed users to download copies of the petition and used voter records to partially fill in the users' personal information.

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