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Maryland Lawsuit Leads to Equality for Independent Political Candidates

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On August 3, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Maryland, Dorsey v. Lamone. Case No. GLR-15-2170, was settled, with the State of Maryland acknowledging that its requirement that independent candidates for statewide office obtain over 40,000 signatures in order to gain access to the ballot for elective office was unconstitutional, especially in light of the fact that minor political parties need only obtain 10,000 signatures in order to get all of their Party’s candidates on the ballot.

Maryland’s law was challenged by Greg Dorsey, a Maryland resident who indicated his intentions to run for a seat representing Maryland in the U.S. Senate. The requirement that an independent candidate obtain so many signatures has derailed the efforts of just about every independent who has wanted to run for statewide office in Maryland and Mr. Dorsey courageously decided to challenge the law to help other independents and Maryland voters who wish to cast their votes for an independent.

With this settlement striking down the current law, the issue will now go back to the legislature for the crafting of a new ballot access law, based on the recommendation of the State’s lawyers that the new law provide no greater signature requirements for independent candidates than are required of minor parties. Of course, the Democratic and Republican candidates need not obtain any signatures at all.

Earlier in the case, the presiding judge, U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III entered an Order denying the Maryland Board of Elections’ Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit and in that Memorandum Order, Judge Russell indicated that there appeared to be constitutional issues with the great disparity in the signature requirements between minor party and independent candidates.

The Maryland Board responsibly heeded Judge Russell’s Order and saved the taxpayers a great deal of time and money by settling the case on terms that well serve Maryland voters and political candidates. The Plaintiff, Mr. Dorsey, was represented by Attorney David I. Schoen.

For further information or questions, please contact David Schoen at [email protected] or 334-395-6611.

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