- The Washington Times - Friday, June 10, 2011

Maryland’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is questioning the legality of a website used to collect signatures opposing the state’s recently passed Dream Act.

The ACLU of Maryland said Friday it has contacted the state Board of Elections over use of an online petition system by organizers of an effort to force a referendum on the Dream Act, a law that would allow in-state tuition for many college-aged illegal immigrants.

The petitioners’ website, mdpetitions.com, allows residents to print out and circulate their own copies of the petition. It automatically generates the residents’ information from voter records — after they provide their names, dates of birth and zip codes — to ensure that their signatures are not rejected due to technicalities or incorrect information.

The site helped organizers collect about 58,000 signatures by the end of May, more than 41,000 of which had been validated as of Thursday by elections officials. Organizers must collect 55,736 valid signatures by June 30 to force a November 2012 referendum.

The ACLU has taken issue with the automatic information generator, which it says it is easily subject to fraud and violates state law requiring that all petition signers personally provide all of their own information.

The group said it sent a letter to the board on May 31, the same day that organizers turned in their first batch of signatures.

Ross Goldstein, the Board of Elections‘ deputy state administrator, said Friday that the board is reviewing the issue with the state attorney general.