Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.photo) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) unveiled legislation Wednesday to enforce civil and criminal penalties for those who publish or in some way communicate false or misleading election material with the intent to dissuade or prevent certain people from voting. Entitled the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2011, the law would make it a federal crime to disclose misleading information regarding voting eligibility and information on the times and locations of elections — whether through print, electronic, or telephonic mediums — within 90 days before a federal election.
The move comes days after Paul Schurick, former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr.’s (R) 2010 campaign manager, was convicted by a Baltimore jury of four counts of election law violations stemming from a robocall used in the state’s 2010 gubernatorial race that prosecutors claim was staged to suppress the black vote. The automated call allegedly told voters in Baltimore and in Prince George’s County to "relax" because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful in winning the election.
Cardin referred to the Schurick case because the Maryland State Prosecutor could only take action thanks to a 2006 state law, while he stressed that a similar law must be enacted on the national level to prevent similar instances from occurring in other states.
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