The sort of misleading information described in

This preview shows page 14 - 15 out of 26 pages.

suppress the vote. The sort of misleading information described in Report #1 sought to confuse voters about their choice of can- didates as opposed to attempting to keep them from casting their ballots in the first place. The second example of how deceptive election information was spread gave rise to one of the very few prosecutions and convic- tions based on such activity. This case attracted widespread me- dia attention and serves an important example to officials from other states as the defendant was convicted of violating a broadly worded statute that is similar in scope to the voter intimidation statutes in other states. Schurick was successfully prosecuted under the Maryland Election Code and convicted on four counts, including under § 16-201(7), 26 and on February 16, 2012, he was sentenced to 30 days of in-home detention, 4 years of proba- tion, and 500 hours of community service. 27 Of particular interest is the fact that Schurick’s conviction rested on his violation of Section 16-201(7), which prohibits conduct that results in “the denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen … to vote on ac- count of race,” whereas the indictment 28 cites fraud to influence the decisions of voters to go to the polls. 26 Note that the charges in Schurick’s indictment cited § 16-201(7), but used language more consistent with § 16-201(6) (“using fraud to influence the decision of voters whether or not to go to the polls to cast a vote”). 27 Peter Hermann, Schurick Will Not Serve Jail Time in Robocalls Case, The Baltimore Sun, Feb. 16, 2012, - tenced-20120216_1_schurick-doctrine-judge-lawrence-p-fletcher-hill-robocalls. 28 Indictment, Maryland v. Schurick, available at articlefiles/74883-Hensonindictment.pdf . ANALYSIS What makes the Maryland case so critical to combating de- ceptive practices generally is that it exemplifies how a broadly worded fraud statute concerning interference with the electoral franchise allowed for the successful prosecution of a deceptive robocall. Because such “interference” statutes are already on the books in many states, they should continue to be used to prose- cute bad actors who employ these deceitful tactics. It is important to note, however, that the prosecution in the Schurick case was supported by exceptionally strong evidence that demonstrated the defendant’s intent to suppress the vote. For example, a cam- paign memorandum included explicit references to the “Schurick Doctrine,” which it boasted is “designed to promote confusion, emotionalism, and frustration among African American demo- crats [sic], focused in precincts where high concentrations of AA [African Americans] vote.” The campaign memorandum explicitly stated that “[t]he first and most desired outcome is voter sup- pression. The goal is to have as many African American voters stay home as a result of triangulation messaging.” Such strong evidence strengthened the hand of the prosecution in using the broadly-worded fraud statute, because the goal of voter suppres-

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture