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December 13, 2011

Cardin to introduce voter fraud bill

Sen. Ben Cardin said he will unveil legislation Wednesday to impose criminal and civil penalties for those who distribute false voting information before an election.

The effort, which Cardin is making along with New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, comes days after Paul Schurick, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign manager, was found guilty of election fraud for attempting to suppress turnout with a last-minute robo-call.

The call, directed at black neighborhoods in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, told voters to “relax,” and stated before polls had closed that Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s reelection was assured. Schurick’s attorney, arguing that the call was protected under the First Amendment, has vowed to appeal the ruling.

The Sun's coverage of the robo-call case is available here. 

Cardin's legislation would apply to communications that occur in the last 90 of an election with federal candidates on the ballot. Literature listing the wrong date or time for an election, giving inaccurate information about voter eligibility, or promoting false endorsements of candidates would be covered under the bill, for instance.

Though the legislation would have applied to the Schurick case, it was not drafted in response to it, a Cardin aide said. The senator has been working on the issue for several years and has introduced different iterations of the bill in the past.

Maryland has a long history of last-minute election sneak attacks, including erroneous sample ballots, literature insinuating endorsements that were never made and misleading robo-calls.

Updated:Those who use deceptive practices would be subject to a fine or a five-year prison sentence under the proposal. The bill would also authorize the U.S. Attorney General to communicate directly with voters to correct false information if state and local officials did not do so.

Posted by John Fritze at 12:35 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Washington
        

Comments

Don't forget about all the people not qualified to vote yet still vote. If you are doing to do a bill, way not extend it to all voter fraud.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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