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Cabrera v. Penate

Court of Appeals of Maryland

June 20, 2014

CLAUDIA NATALIE CABRERA
v.
CECILIA R. PENATE, ET AL

Argued April 30, 2014.

Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Leo E. Green, Jr., JUDGE.

ARGUED BY Jonathan S. Shurberg (of Silver Spring, MD) on brief FOR APPELLANT.

ARGUED BY Julia Doyle Bernhardt, Assistant Attorney General (Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General of Maryland, Jeffrey L. Darsie, Assistant Attorney General of Baltimore, MD) on brief; Bruce L. Marcus (Sydney M. Patterson, of Marcusbonsib, LLC of Greenbelt, MD) on brief FOR APPELLEES.

ARGUED BEFORE Barbera, C.J., Harrell, Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald and Watts, JJ. Opinion by Barbera, C.J.

OPINION

Page 51

[439 Md. 101] Barbera, C.J.

Claudia Natalie Cabrera, Appellant before this Court, wished to seek the nomination of the Maryland Democratic Party for the office of delegate in the June 2014 gubernatorial primary election. When Appellant tendered for filing the certificate of candidacy expressing her intention to run in the election, she was a registered member of the Republican Party, but affirmed that she was a Democrat.

Cecilia R. Penate, one of the Appellees before this Court, is a registered voter in the legislative district that Appellant sought to represent. She filed a petition in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County challenging Appellant's candidacy. About the same time, the Maryland State Board of Elections (the " State Board" ) sent to Appellant, through counsel, a notice of its intention to exclude Appellant's name from the primary election ballot, citing the fact that she was not affiliated with the Democratic Party.

After a hearing, the Circuit Court declared Appellant's candidacy invalid and ordered the State Board and Prince George's County Board of Election Supervisors (the " County Board" ), the other Appellees before this Court, to exclude Appellant's name from the primary election ballot. In an order dated May 1, 2014, we affirmed the ruling of the Circuit Court. In this opinion, we explain the reasons for our conclusion that a registered member of one political party may not file a valid certificate of candidacy declaring the intent to run in the primary election of another political party.

I.

Appellant tendered for filing the certificate of candidacy with the State Board, requesting that her name be placed on the ballot in the June 24, 2014, gubernatorial primary election, on February 25, 2014, the deadline to do so. She sought the nomination of the Democratic Party for the office of delegate representing District 47B, located in Prince George's County.

On the certificate of candidacy, Appellant listed her address as 2528 Metzerott Road, Adelphi, Maryland, a residence located [439 Md. 102] within District 47B. In fact, on February 25, 2014, Appellant resided outside of District 47B. She intended, at some time in the future, to move to the Metzerott Road residence; she moved in March 2014.

Page 52

Pertinent to this appeal, on the certificate of candidacy, Appellant listed her party affiliation as " Democratic." On the date she filed the certificate of candidacy, however, Appellant was a registered member of the Republican Party. Two days later, on February 27, 2014, Appellant filed with the State Board a voter registration application form, changing her party affiliation to Democratic.[1]

On March 4, 2014, Penate, a resident and registered voter in District 47B, filed in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County a petition challenging Appellant's certificate of candidacy, naming Appellant, the State Board, and the County Board as respondents. Penate brought the petition, initially, pursuant to Maryland Code (2002, 2010 Repl. Vol.), § 5-305 of the Election Law Article,[2] which permits a " challenge [to] the candidate's residency as provided in § 5-202." Section 5-202 states that a candidate for office " must be a registered voter at an address that satisfies any residence requirement for the office that is imposed by law . . . ." Penate asserted that Appellant did not meet the residency requirement imposed by Article III, § 9 of ...


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