Conviction in GOP voter-suppression scheme

Last November, there was a fairly competitive gubernatorial race in Maryland. Late on Election Day, robocalls targeted more than 100,000 Democratic households, telling voters to “relax” and not bother voting because Dems were going to win. It was one of the most blatant examples of GOP voter-suppression tactics in a long while.

Fortunately, those responsible got caught. Yesterday, a jury convicted the Republican ringleader.

Paul E. Schurick, the 2010 campaign manager for former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., was convicted Tuesday by a Baltimore jury of four counts stemming from a robocall that prosecutors said was intended to suppress the black vote.

The call, which Schurick acknowledged authorizing, was placed on Election Day to 112,000 voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, the state’s two largest majority-African American jurisdictions. Recipients were told by an unidentified woman that they could “relax” because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful.

Fortunately, other members of the former Republican governor’s team will also stand trial for their role.

Obviously, there’s a problem when Republican officials believe the best way to win an election is to suppress political participation. But the larger issue here is that GOP officials keep pushing the “war on voting,” putting new hurdles between voters and the ballot box, ostensibly because they fear the scourge of fraud.

The irony is, the fraud Republicans are worried about is imaginary, while the real-world fraud is coming from their side of the political divide.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.