A plan by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s campaign manager to suppress black votes in Baltimore and Prince George’s County was hatched shortly before 3 p.m. on a desperate, hectic Election Day last year, prosecutors alleged Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court.
Needing low voter turnout in those jurisdictions, aides to Ehrlich, a Republican, conferred with political consultant Julius Henson on a strategy to keep those votes down, according to emails presented to the jury in the election fraud case against Ehrlich’s campaign manager, Paul Schurick, 55, of Crownsville.
“What does Julius need to make city turnout stay low?” campaign political director Bernie Marczyk wrote in a 2:53 p.m. email to Schurick, proposing additional bonuses for Henson if he could keep residents from the polls.
Months earlier, the Ehrlich campaign had rejected a $600,000 plan by Henson to suppress votes throughout the state, prosecutors told the jury. Henson’s plan was based on what he called the “Schurick Doctrine,” which he said was to “promote confusion, emotionalism and frustration” among black voters in largely African-American districts, prosecutors said.
Though rejecting that plan, the campaign continued to pay Henson $16,000 a month — for a total of $112,000 — and promised a bonus of $30,000 should Ehrlich win.
On Election Day, with the race on the line, and a sense of panic setting in amid an ultimately unsuccessful effort against Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, the campaign finally gave in to Henson’s plans, prosecutors said.