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Slots developer sues Anne Arundel elections board

Thumbnail image for Anne Arundel slots.jpgCordish Cos. on Tuesday sued the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections, alleging it was overlooking "glaring and massive" fraud in a petition drive seeking to derail the developer's plans to build a slots casino at Arundel Mills mall.

The suit, filed in Arundel County Circuit Court, comes amid a petition drive to give voters a say on whether Cordish should be granted zoning approval required to build the 4,750-machine casino.

As of Tuesday, the elections board had verified 13,136 voter signatures presented by the coalition, which includes surrounding homeowners and the operators of Laurel Park racetrack, who would like to see slots there instead. If 18,790 valid signatures are presented by March 8, the zoning measure will go on the November ballot in the county.

The suit alleges that the elections board is "violating its statutory duties to enforce measures designed to prevent ... fraud."

"I don't think there's any merit to the claim," said James C. Praley, a lawyer for the elections board.

Praley noted that the board had thrown out about half the signatures submitted by the coalition because they didn't comply with rules for petition drives. "The bottom line is we're doing what we're supposed to be doing," he said.

Heather Ford, a spokeswoman for the coalition, which has employed paid signature-gatherers, said the lawsuit "seems like an act of pure desperation."

"Cordish must have realized that the coalition will have substantially more than enough petition signatures to place the zoning ordinance on the November ballot," Ford said.

Andrew C. White, a lawyer for Cordish, said the lawsuit "speaks for itself."

"It goes to the heart of the integrity of the electoral process, and whether or not election boards should or should not concern themselves with issues of fraud," White said.

Cordish is seeking an injunction that would require the elections board to investigate allegations of fraud and "take appropriate action in response."

By John Wagner  |  February 23, 2010; 5:49 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , John Wagner , Slots  
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So a sleazy developer is upset that citizens might block the gift given to it by lackeys on the Anne Arundel County Council. Sounds like Cordish doesn't like democracy very much!

Posted by: RealChoices | February 23, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

PUH-LEASE, Cordish! This is the process working the way it is supposed to work. Maybe We the People will actually prevail over all the big money, political and business interests for once and protect our quality of life!

Posted by: dsauter | February 23, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Just because there is an address that matches a registration card and
a "signature" doesn't mean that
actual person signed it.

Validation should be done with some random sampling of the "approved" signatures because the election board is only comparing the voter card address and the fact there is a signature of some kind that matches syntax and spelling only.

They are is no way for them to call to confirm each one and the hired signature firm knows this. This is an attempt to overwhelm the election board since they can only confirm the address syntax and the fact there is a signature of some kind.

Why should there be any worry if there was no fraud that is slipping through?

Talk about sleezy bed fellows.

A purported "Anti slots" group and the track working together?

That is not a democratic process, its astroturf and corporate greed at its best trying to pawn itself off as "grass roots". Puh Leeze.

Posted by: RealityCheck29 | February 23, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Appears RealityCheck29 is working for or has believes in something promised from the Casino Co.

Posted by: mdassistance | February 24, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Yes, lets not talk about the good citizens of AMILS using the democratic process. Everyone knows it's about owners and former owners of Laurel Park who would make a killing if slots could go there instead. Their mouths are already watering. As for the Jockey Club: if they had all that money to hire professional signature gatherers, why did they let the tracks go bankrupt in the first place?

Posted by: theSburg | February 24, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

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