Top strategists in the recent Maryland gubernatorial race carefully orchestrated plans to suppress the Black vote, court documents in the indictment of two of those involved in the plot show.
Paul E. Schurick, senior campaign official for former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, and a Republican and political consultant, Julius Henson, allegedly contrived detailed strategies to reduce Democratic turnout.
According to Maryland State Prosecutor Emmett C. Davitt, a grand jury charged Henson, 62, and Schurick with three counts each of conspiracy to violate election laws, one count of violating voter suppression laws and one count of failure to provide an authority line on campaign materials. Schurick was also charged with obstruction of justice. All charges, except the authority line violation, could bring five years imprisonment.
At the core of the conspiracy was the “Schurick Doctrine,” a well-orchestrated plan designed to promote confusion, emotions and frustration in precincts with high concentrations of Black Democratic voters. The first and most desired outcome of the Schurick Doctrine strategy, according to the indictment, was “voter suppression.”
The strategy blanketed 536 precincts encompassing Baltimore City and Prince Georges County with automated phone messages congratulating residents for incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley’s victory and urging them to stay home from the polls, which had not yet, in fact, closed. O’Malley is a Democrat.
During a two-hour period on Election Day, Nov. 2, more than 110,000 people received a call with the recording prior to voter polls closing.
The indictment also detailed six months of planning documents generated by Henson, covering topics such as “Proposed African American Messaging” and “Targeting Methodology”. These and other incriminating documents were subsequently seized from his home by investigators. For his role with the campaign, Henson was paid a total of $96,000 at a monthly rate and received an additional $29,000 for the last week in October, just before the election.
“The State Prosecutor’s Office is charged with safeguarding the integrity of the election process,” said Davitt in a statement. “We will aggressively investigate and prosecute any illegal tactics that attempt to threaten its integrity.”