Political Animal


June 17, 2011 11:25 AM Actual election crimes

By Steve Benen

Last November, there was a fairly competitive gubernatorial race in Maryland. Late on Election Day, robocalls targeted more than Democratic 100,000 households, telling voters to “relax” and not bother voting because Dems were going to win. It was one of the most blatant examples of GOP voter-suppression in a long while.

Fortunately, those responsible got caught. (via Oliver Willis)

A senior aide and a consultant hired by former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) were indicted Thursday in a case stemming from thousands of anonymous robocalls placed on election night last year that suggested voters could stay home even though the polls were still open.

Paul Schurick, 54, Ehrlich’s de facto campaign manager, and Julius Henson, 62, a consultant paid by the campaign, were both charged with three counts of conspiracy to violate election laws, one count of influencing votes through fraud and one count of failing to identify the sponsor of the calls. In addition, Schurick was charged on one count of obstruction of justice.

In a statement, the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor, which obtained the indictments from a Baltimore grand jury, said its investigation is continuing. All but one of the charges handed down Thursday carry maximum prison sentences of five years.

There’s a problem when Republican officials believe the best way to win an election is to suppress political participation.

Of course, while the Maryland scheme appears to have been criminal, this year, the more pressing problem is the fact that GOP state lawmakers aren’t resorting to robocall schemes; they’re just rigging the game before Election Day even comes.

As we talked about last week, there is a concerted national effort on the part of many Republican policymakers to make it harder for traditional Democratic voters to participate in the 2012 elections. Under the auspices of rooting out “voter fraud” — a problem that appears to exist largely in the over-active imaginations of GOP activists — Republicans are passing voter-ID measures, approving new laws restricting voter-registration drives, and closing early-voting windows.

If all goes according to plan, going forward, they won’t even need ridiculous schemes like the one in Maryland.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • whichwitch on June 17, 2011 11:48 AM:

    Of course one of those states happen to be Texas. The strict measures proposed by the idio...er, Republicans will most likely end up in the courts.

    It looks to me like the only party involved in voter fraud is the Republican one.

  • c u n d gulag on June 17, 2011 11:56 AM:

    Conservative list of eligible voters:

    White males, over 40, who own property. Some females accepted, but only after loyalty oath.

    Born again Christian - if the above doesn't apply to you.

    Quisling and turncoats of any and all races, colors, creeds, and sexual orientation, out to make a buck as Conservatives.

    College Republicans.

    Conservative military personel.

    All others may vote at police stations and prisons - since that's where you'll be if you don't meet the above criteria.

  • Eeyore on June 17, 2011 12:09 PM:

    But what about the New Black Panther Party?

  • Kane on June 17, 2011 12:36 PM:

    The indictment describes a document titled "The Schurick Doctrine" and says that it was "designed to promote confusion, emotionalism, and frustration among African-American Democrats."

    The indictment quotes from the document: "The first and foremost desired outcome [of the Schurick Doctrine strategy] is voter suppression."


  • BM on June 17, 2011 1:41 PM:

    The sentence for this shouldn't be five consecutive years in prison. The sentence should be to spend Sept 2-Nov 2 in prison, every year for thirty years.

    Let the punishment fit the crime.

  • dcsusie on June 17, 2011 1:42 PM:

    If Schurick went to the trouble to codify his tactics as a 'Doctrine', you can bet he also peddled them to other Republithugs.

    And BTW, why was Bobby Haircut (Erlich) not included in these charges? What are the chances his campaign manager decided to implement something of this scale without bringing Erlich in on it. Here's hoping somebody flips and Erlich goes down too.

  • Openthreads on June 17, 2011 3:43 PM:

    Hmmm...does New Black Panthers ring a bell?

  • Sasha on June 17, 2011 4:05 PM:

  • Daniel Kim on June 17, 2011 4:09 PM:

    Are these guys even American? How can anyone live in this country, or grow up in this country without holding the process of free elections as sacred? At what point in their lives did Schurick and Henson miss the message that the freedom of the ballot box is a foundation of this nation's strength and one of the pillars of our character? Were they kidnapped and indoctrinated by foreign agents when they were children? If men can grow up in America and not love its core values, then there is a dangerous hole in their upbringing. This hole must be filled for coming generations, or America will too-easily rot from within.

  • exlibra on June 17, 2011 5:52 PM:

    Any odds on whether the case would have come to court had Ehrlich won instead of O'Malley?

    "mpsition falsely". Repubs are falsely accusing Dems of voter fraud, which leads them to impose voter disenfranchising laws.

  • Dan Tomkinson on June 18, 2011 9:56 AM:


    All 8 of em? Or just the two caught on someones cell phone video standing in front of a precinct?

    By the way, one of them was a certified election observer.

    The other one was successfully prosecuted by the Holder Justice dept.

    I know, scary black people in a scary black precinct should be allowed to scare other black people.

    (Of course, you never do see them menacing anyone, all you see in the video from the white college republican who went there after receiving his tip from the RNCC is 2 guys standing in front of the precinct with people walking right past em)