Campaign Aides to Former Maryland Governor Charged With Voter Suppression

Workers allegedly wanted Black voters to stay home.

Posted: 06/21/2011 12:09 PM EDT
Campaign Aides to Former Maryland Governor Charged With Voter Suppression

Two political operatives who worked last year on the gubernatorial campaign of Robert L. Ehrlich, a former Republican governor who sought a return to office last year, have been indicted by a Baltimore grand jury on multiple counts of conspiracy to violate the state’s election laws. Campaign manager Paul E. Schurick and political consultant Julius Henson, who is Black, are alleged to have orchestrated robocalls to more than 100,000 Democratic voters in an effort to suppress the African-American vote.

 

“Hello. I’m calling to let everyone know that Gov. O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. The polls were correct, and we took it back. We’re okay,” said the automated message that went out to voters even though the polls were still open. “Relax. Everything’s fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight. Congratulations, and thank you.”

 

The goal was to make voters think that Ehrlich’s Democratic opponent Martin O’Malley had already won the gubernatorial election and therefore they need not turn up at the polls. Henson told The Baltimore Sun that the calls were actually intended to encourage supporters to vote.

 

The grand jury disagreed. The indictment cites a document called “The Schurick Doctrine” that was “designed to promote confusion, emotionalism and frustration among African-American Democrats.” It also pulled a quote from the document that said, “The first and foremost desired outcome [of the Schurick Doctrine strategy] is voter suppression.”

 

(Photo: Barbara L. Salisbury/Landov) 

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