Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Democrats Seek Federal Law Against Election Fraud

The Wash­ing­ton Post

Mary­land Sen. Ben­jamin L. Cardin (D) on Wednes­day said tricks designed to sup­press voter turnout, espe­cially those of his­tor­i­cally dis­en­fran­chised minori­ties, require Con­gress to pass an update to the nation’s 50-year-old voting-rights legislation.

Cardin said he would file a bill Wednes­day to make it a fed­eral offense to pro­duce or use fraud­u­lent elec­tion mate­r­ial to try to mis­lead or dis­cour­age vot­ing within 90 days of an election. For one, Cardin said the bill would allow pros­e­cu­tors nation­wide to guard against the kind of robo­calls that a Mary­land jury this month decided were intended to sup­press black voter turnout in the state’s 2010 guber­na­to­r­ial race.

For­mer Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich’s ® cam­paign man­ager, Paul E. Schurick, was found guilty of four counts of elec­tion law vio­la­tions stem­ming from order­ing the calls, which told vot­ers in Prince George’s County and in Bal­ti­more to “relax” and to not bother going to the polls. The auto­mated call said Demo­c­ra­tic can­di­date Gov. Mar­tin O’Malley and Pres­i­dent Obama had already been suc­cess­ful. Schurick is sched­uled to be sen­tenced Feb. 16, and faces poten­tial jail time.

Cardin noted that the Office of the Mary­land State Pros­e­cu­tor could only pur­sue the case because of a 2006 change to state law. He and co-sponsor New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D), said a sim­i­lar tool is needed in the hands of pros­e­cu­tors nation­wide. Their “Decep­tive Prac­tices and Voter Intim­i­da­tion Pre­ven­tion Act of 2011” would cre­ate a process for civil com­plaints as well as crim­i­nal penal­ties of up to five years in prison.

At a Capi­tol Hill news con­fer­ence, Cardin and Schumer were flanked by plac­ards show­ing exam­ples of what they said were increas­ingly sophis­ti­cated attempts to sup­press and intim­i­date voters. One showed a fab­ri­cated “sam­ple Demo­c­ra­tic bal­lot” from Maryland’s pre­vi­ous guber­na­to­r­ial elec­tion, when paid cam­paign work­ers for Ehrlich and then Lt. Gov. Michael Steele cir­cu­lated a flyer before the 2006 elec­tion that sug­gested the Repub­li­can can­di­dates were the pre­ferred choices of Democrats.

One from Mil­wau­kee sug­gested erro­neously that any­one who had been found guilty of even a traf­fic vio­la­tion was not allowed to vote in an upcom­ing elec­tion. And another showed a flyer seem­ingly pro­duced by a local elec­tion board ask­ing Repub­li­cans to vote on Tues­day, and Democ­rats to vote on Wednesday.

This should make anyone’s blood boil,” Schumer said, adding that “Democracy’s days are num­bered” if the prac­tices are not curbed. Cardin added that in an age of so many fledg­ling democ­ra­cies seek­ing to take root around the world, the United States must “lead by exam­ple” in pro­tect­ing cit­i­zens’ right to vote.

Read the full story @ The Wash­ing­ton Post.

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