Last week, Paul Schurick, the campaign manager for former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to violate election laws and two counts of election fraud for orchestrating a scheme of robo-calls intended to deter 100,000 Democratic African-American voters from voting in the City of Baltimore and Prince George’s County Maryland.
The robo-calls, delivered in a woman’s voice, assured Democratic voters that the Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley had already won the election as of 6:00 p.m. on Election Day 2010. “Our goals have been met. The polls are correct and we took it back. We’re OK. Relax. Everything’s fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”
At trial, Schurick argued his intention was to anger voters sympathetic to his candidate in order to motivate them to vote. A jury rejected his argument and found Schurick’s intent was to mislead and discourage Democratic African‑American voters from going to the polls. Schurick’s conviction comes in the midst of a robust national debate about the importance of ballot security and how to protect American elections.
Since January 2011, 15 states passed laws — with more legislation currently pending in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia, among others — that burden individual voters by making it harder for citizens to register and to vote. These efforts range from eliminating early voting on Sunday, to making it more difficult for citizens to register, to requiring a specific kind of government-issued photo ID to vote. In almost all cases these laws are justified as a means to prevent voter fraud. This justification fails.
Simply put: these laws do nothing to prevent voter fraud, while putting up unnecessary barriers to the ballot for millions.
… Conversely, the “voter fraud” evangelicals ignore the very real problems created by voter deception. In a case before him in 2009, federal Judge Dickinson Debevoise found that voter intimidation tactics present an ongoing threat to participation in the political process” and continue to pose a far greater danger to the integrity of the process than the unproven and undemonstrated threat of voter impersonation and improper voter registration.
The distribution of misinformation about elections and voter eligibility undermines public confidence and discourages citizens from participating in the electoral process.