An interesting political trial got under way Tuesday in Baltimore. It involves robocalls made during the 2010 rematch between former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, and the Democratic incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The calls were made Election Day afternoon by consultants working for the Ehrlich campaign and went to about 110,000 Democratic voters. The voters were told to “relax,” that “O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. The polls were correct, and we took it back.” The caller, never identified, went on to say that “the only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”
Ehrlich’s campaign manager Paul Schurick faces two counts of conspiracy for violating state election law, which prohibits trying to influence a voter’s decision to go to the polls through the use of fraud.
Prosecutors say the robocalls were a clear attempt to suppress the African American vote, which the Ehrlich campaign knew would back O’Malley. But Schurick’s attorneys say it was just the opposite, that the calls were an effort to use reverse psychology and spur potential Ehrlich supporters to go to the polls to avoid defeat.