Slots opponents drafting suit over ballot wording

around the region

August 26, 2008|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,laura.smitherman@baltsun.com

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Slots opponents are drafting a lawsuit to challenge the wording of a ballot question that will be put to voters in November on whether to legalize slot-machine gambling at five locations in Maryland.

Irwin R. Kramer, a lawyer who represented Republicans when they sued to question the constitutionality of $1.3 billion in tax increases approved by the General Assembly in last year's special session, said he planned to file a suit this week over the slots question. He intends to name Secretary of State John P. McDonough, who prepared the question, as a defendant.

The legal challenge comes after the Maryland State Board of Elections denied a request from Marylanders United to Stop Slots to throw out the ballot question and declined to hear the matter at its meeting this week. The Elections Board said in a letter that it has the authority only to place the information on the ballot, not to reject, rewrite or alter the wording of the slots referendum.

Slots foes have criticized the ballot question on the proposed constitutional amendment to allow expanded gambling as deceptive because it lays out the ways in which slots revenue would fund public education but not how a portion would accrue to the gambling and horse-racing industries.

McDonough has said he closely followed legislative language when crafting the question.

"Voters would think they are helping school kids, but in fact if they ratify the amendment they are directing money far from schools," Kramer said. "There ought to be truth in voting."

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