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November 7, 2006
 by Washington Monthly Election Day Blog
Washington Monthly Election Day Blog


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
The Washington Monthly

Washington Monthly Election Day Blog 2:48 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

Welcome to the party of personal responsibility.


Posted by: BS Detector on November 7, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

This is reprehensible.

Posted by: Terry in Maryland on November 7, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

The only time Republicans are for helping the homeless...

Posted by: Xofis on November 7, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

If this were a foreign country with US observers, what would the verdict be?

Posted by: ahem on November 7, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

This is my old neighborhood (I moved 2 months ago, lived there for 5 years) and they have the nerve to say that Dems treat African-Americans like they're stupid...

Posted by: zoe kentucky on November 7, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Reminiscent of the documentary Street Fight about the Newark, N.J. mayoral race. Apparently, Philly is the place to go for buslaods of paid flaks to distribute misleading capaign lit on election day.

Posted by: Dungheap on November 7, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall has a link to an article that states that at least one busload of Philadelphia homeless was greeted by Barbara Erlich -- the governor's wife. I expect that if this race is close, there will be lots of people wanted her ass thrown in jail for participating in this fraud....

Posted by: p.lukasiak on November 7, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Just in from driving little old ladies to the polls in Baltimore. At Reformation Lutheran Church on Loch Raven Blvd. today five Steele electioneers were half-heartedly handing out "Official Voter Guides" with the headline "Ehrlich-Steele Democrats: 43 District Voter Guide." The phamplet shows a sample ballot with a red X for Ehrlich and Michael Steele along with real Dems for other offices, i.e. Gansler for Attorney General, Elijah Cummings for Congress, adn Pat Jessamy for State's Attorney. The brochures were absolutely misleading some voters. Many may accidentally vote for Ehrlich or Steele thinking they are Democrats. Remember, many of the voters are elderly. They don't follow politics. They are easily misled.

I got talking to the Steele electioneers. They all kept taling about "The Program." I asked them more about it, and it turns out they were recovering drug addicts from Delaware and Philly. The Ehrlich/Steele campaigns were paying them to come work the polls all day. They kept laughing about how they were getting paid but were not getting paid. Wink Wink. One was named Anthony Harris. He was from Delaware. He told me that he is a trained chef who's currently living in a drug treatment house. I called the Baltimore City Board of Elections and spoke with a lawyer from the Democratic party. He was sending some people to go check things out.
Clearly, this is an Ehrlich/Steele dirty trick. These guys are shameless. Although I don't know if any laws were broken.


Posted by: SSKrause on November 7, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

This is even more likely to work given that Maryland's voting machine (Deibold) don't report party affiliations in the ballot confirmation summary (reinforcing my belief that they were designed by 10 year olds).

Posted by: JP on November 7, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

If you can't beat 'em, fool 'em.

Posted by: Xanthippas on November 7, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

At some point we have to stop blaming the underhanded Republicans, and begin to worry aboutand address our under-educated, under-informed voting public. These vile tactics and circus tricks only work because those who understand them have not stood up for the people who are preyed upon.

Posted by: David on November 7, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Right, David. Blame the conned.

Posted by: jgabriel66 on November 7, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

How about a scan of the document? You could post it. You have it, right?

Posted by: Steve White on November 7, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White,

The Raw Story has a scanned copy of the pamphlet here.

Posted by: Dan on November 7, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

No, I'm not blaming the conned, I'm wondering why we have let so many people live in a state where they can be conned. I think the disparity in education (Republican agenda) has created a class of Americans who are likely to tricked by last minute lies and Madison Ave. marketing. I feel thats a shame!

Posted by: david on November 8, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Please give these voters some credit. Not too many fell for it. Look at the results. These disgusting repulsive men were soundly rejected in P.G. County. I guess Michael Steele kept these pamphlets in his garbage cans. I wonder how the other Republicans on the ticket feel about Steele and Ehrlich throwing them under the bus to save themselves?

Posted by: MD Voter on November 8, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I was handing out real democratic sample ballots at a polling place in Montgomery County where I am also the precinct chair and, towards evening had a few people turn them down thinking I was trying to hand out fraudulent material based on this news story saying "we know all about what you are doing". The only reason I do this is because I want people to make an informed vote. This casts suspicion on everyone and poisons the whole process.

Posted by: Sylvia S Tognetti on November 8, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

In two lower class, predominantly African American areas (old Fort Washington and Forestville) a large number of signs popped up overnight Monday. They are colored black, green and red and state "We R Not SLAVES to the DEMOCRATS". I did not see these signs in the wealthier areas of Woodmore and Mitchellville

Posted by: Ted on November 8, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

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