RIVERDALE, MARYLAND, 2:39 p.m.
Maybe it's my lack of knowledge about Maryland politics, but I could have sworn that Martin O'Malley is the Democratic candidate for governor. Apparently I was mistaken. As I approached the polling place here at Parkdale High School, a man in an Ehrlich-Cox shirt handed me a two-page fold-out pamphlet. I immediately recognized the front—it was the misleading Curry/Mfume/Johnson "endorsement" from "Ehlrich-Steele Democrats" that I blogged about earlier. Inside, however, was a clear attempt to mislead Democratic voters. Under the headline, "DEMOCRATIC SAMPLE BALLOT" was a comprehensive listing of candidates, each with an X next to his or her name. In the parallel universe contained within this pamphlet, Robert Ehrlich is the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and Michael Steele is the Dems' pick for the Senate. The intent could not be clearer: to confuse those looking to vote a straight Democratic ticket. The handout cleverly conceals its purpose by leaving Democrats intact under many of the categories—for instance, Steny Hoyer is listed for district five.
I talked to the man who handed me the pamphlet. A thirty-something African-American who wouldn't give his name, he told me that, starting last Friday, some people had come to the Philadelphia homeless shelter where he said he volunteers, and had begun to recruit residents. Eventually, he said that 300 people filled five buses. He said he was paid $100 for the day's work. He was honest with me: He didn't actually support Ehrlich, but was pro-Steele.
Kristin Awsumb-Liu was also on scene. A volunteer supporting O'Malley, she was convinced the pamphlets could have an impact. "People don't know necessarily who the candidates are. I'd hand them the O'Malley literature, and they'd say, 'Oh, is he the Democrat?' And when I say yes, they say, 'Oh, OK, I'll vote for him.' But if someone hands them literature that says Ehrlich's the Democrat, then who knows?"
At the bottom of the front page, the small print reveals the pamphlet's origins. The two-line disclosure reads: "Paid and Authorized by Bob Ehrlich for Maryland Committee" and "Paid and Authorized by Steele for Maryland, Inc." Classy work, all around.
-- Jesse Singal
—Washington Monthly Election Day Blog 2:48 PM
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