2016 | Politics

Ficker Won’t Be Defendant in Case against His Ballot Initiative

Ballots will be printed regardless of outcome

Robin Ficker drops off a box at the County Executive Office Building in Rockville last month.

Andrew Metcalf

Robin Ficker, who is spearheading a drive to impose term limits on local politicians, will not be a defendant when a challenge to his effort is heard in Montgomery County circuit court.

Ficker, a lawyer, is seeking to limit the Montgomery County executive and members of the County Council to three terms.

He and his volunteers collected nearly 18,000 signatures from people who want to want to see the measure on the ballot in November. The county Board of Elections verified about 12,000 of the signatures, well above the necessary 10,000.

Former Rockville City Councilman Tom Moore challenged the signatures in a circuit court suit. He claimed that some of the listed names weren’t signed, and that many have dates that used ink or penmanship that didn’t match the signer, which he claimed violated state rules.

His suit named the county and state boards of elections, but not Ficker.

Ficker submitted a legal brief to Judge Robert A. Greenberg saying he should be a part of the proceedings.

“As the individual who spearheaded the term limits amendment petition drive, Mr. Ficker has an interest in ensuring that the certification of the County Board of Elections is upheld,” Ficker wrote in his petition.

Greenberg Friday declined to add another party to the case. In anemail to the participants in the case, Greenberg said he believed Ficker’s interests will be protected adequately by the other parties. He also said he was worried about delays in the proceedings.

“Obviously, Mr. Ficker may be called as a witness by any of the parties, and to that extent he will participate in the proceedings.  In my view, simply being an important witness does not mean that one should be made a party,” Greenberg wrote.

Meanwhile, the ballots will be printed with the ballot question intact. If the state waited for the outcome of the lawsuit, there would be too little time to print ballots to send them to military serving overseas. Moore said he found the argument persuasive, and withdrew his request for an injunction to prevent the ballots from being printed.

If he wins the case, the elections board will not bother to count whatever votes are marked, Moore said.