-By Brad Freidman, June 17, 2011-
A senior aide and a consultant hired by former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) were indicted Thursday in a case stemming from thousands of anonymous robocalls placed on election night last year that suggested voters could stay home even though the polls were still open.
Paul Schurick, 54, Ehrlich’s de facto campaign manager, and Julius Henson, 62, a consultant paid by the campaign, were both charged with three counts of conspiracy to violate election laws, one count of influencing votes through fraud and one count of failing to identify the sponsor of the calls. In addition, Schurick was charged on one count of obstruction of justice.
In a statement, the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor, which obtained the indictments from a Baltimore grand jury, said its investigation is continuing. All but one of the charges handed down Thursday carry maximum prison sentences of five years.
Of course, while the Maryland scheme appears to have been criminal, this year, the more pressing problem is the fact that GOP state lawmakers aren’t resorting to robocall schemes; they’re just rigging the game before Election Day even comes.
As we talked about last week, there is a concerted national effort on the part of many Republican policymakers to make it harder for traditional Democratic voters to participate in the 2012 elections. Under the auspices of rooting out “voter fraud” — a problem that appears to exist largely in the over-active imaginations of GOP activists — Republicans are passing voter-ID measures, approving new laws restricting voter-registration drives, and closing early-voting windows.
If all goes according to plan, going forward, they won’t even need ridiculous schemes like the one in Maryland.
Of course, the new indictments handed down against Ehrlich's aide's in MD (Ehrlich ended up losing the election anyway) are hardly the only examples of GOP election fraud going out there, even as there are rarely indictments for any of it.
We recently detailed the story of the high-ranking Clay County, KY election officials (including the County Clerk, a circuit court judge, and the school superintendent — and other members of the County Election Commission) who were sentenced to a combined total of some 150 years in the federal penitentiary jail, for gaming elections for years in the county via buying and selling votes as well as, in 2006, actually changing the votes of voters on electronic touch-screen voting machines. …