Local boards of elections Friday started validating the signatures on what turns out to be somewhat fewer petitions than originally claimed to overturn the law granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. So far, according to the State Board of Elections website, 4,483 out of about 58,000 signatures submitted have been validated, and 612 were found invalid, a relatively low rate of rejection.

UPDATED: With some boards working on the weekend, as of Monday morning, the count now stands at 9,280 valid signatures, 1,283 invalid. Two counties with almost a third of the petitions, Anne Arundel and Harford, have not processed any signatures.

The opponents of the new law had to have 18,500 signatures by May 31, and need a total of 55,736 by June 30.

Mary Wagner, head of the voter registration division at the state board, said she wasn’t surprised at the difference between what the petitioners certified they submitted – 62,496 — and the number of signatures the board counted. In 10 years of doing this, “I’ve never seen the number the petitioners said they had match the actual number,” Wagner said. In this case, more than 17,000 pages were submitted, making a hand count difficult.

Del. Neil Parrott, the Washington County Republican chairing the drive, also released figures that showed where the signatures were collected by county.
Baltimore County, where Del. Pat McDonough is leading the charge, had the highest number in the state. There, 14,301 signatures were collected, almost a quarter of the total. The other top five counties were Anne Arundel, 8,586; Harford, 5,922; Carroll, 5,820; and Washington, 3,310. Numbers for Calvert County were initially overcounted, leading to the mistaken numbers released by the petitioners on Tuesday.

The number of signatures rejected so far, about 12%, is fairly low by past standards, where as many as a third of signatures have been rejected.

The election board plans on releasing numbers on its website every afternoon after local boards report their numbers.

—Len Lazarick