By Len Lazarick
The Libertarian and Green parties regained their official status on election ballots Tuesday after retired Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Eugene Lerner found they had collected enough signatures on petitions.
“It is great news for third parties in Maryland,” said Libertarian Party Chairman Bob Johnston.
The judge ruled that the State Board of Elections should not have invalidated many of the signatures the parties collected on petitions. The candidates for governor of the two minor parties did not receive enough votes last year to continue their official status, and needed to collect registered voters’ signatures to get back on the ballot.
Lerner found that there was “sufficient cumulative information” on the petitions to validate that the signatures were from registered voters. The decision is part of long-running legal disputes over what information is required from voters who sign petitions.
The ruling means that the two parties can nominate candidates in Baltimore City municipal elections this year and on state ballots through 2014.
“Obviously we disagree with the judge’s decision,” said David Paulson, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, which represented the elections board. “No decision has been made about appealing, but obviously that is an option.”
Mark Grannis, an attorney for the political parties, said the parties had each collected more than 12,000 signatures. They needed to collect 10,000 to regain their official status.