In tomorrow night’s regular Council meeting, the City Council will vote on two referendum petitions that Prince George’s Property Owners’ Association (PGPOA) submitted to the City recently.
According to City Charter, the Council last month referred the petitions to the Board of Election supervisors (BOES) to get them verified. The BOES looked into all of these petition signatures and found that they did not conform to the standard set in the Charter. The City’s attorney also chimed in with her own opinions saying the petitions were “legally insufficient”.
You can read the background of this petition saga in my previous post here.
At stake in tomorrow night’s vote is the fate of several thousand signatures that ordinary citizens put on the petition paper. It appears that whoever designed the petition paper did not carefully look into the City charter about the required format of such petitions.
That said, can we hold the ordinary residents responsible for the omission of their district numbers, when there was no space or column on the petition paper they could write on? Also, how things would have been different if these residents did not willfully write their district numbers, even when the petition papers had a space for a district number? I wish our City code was a bit more clear to distinguish between these two scenarios.
Interestingly, I came across a similar case in New Mexico, where the Supreme Court judges debated the ambiguity of their own election law. Last month, the Court okayed the petitions despite the lack of district number on petition papers.
Please let me know how the Council should vote at tomorrow’s Council meeting.
Regardless, I do think the PGPOA petitions themselves are either unnecessary or they may potentially harm the City in long run. If enacted, the City may not be able to provide an expanded quality service through potential new revenues it may generate from new developments and new businesses. But this is a subject that I’d like to keep separate from the issue of validating petition signatures.