Sauerbrey aides say discrepancies prove vote fraud

December 16, 1994|By Thomas W. Waldron and Michael James | Thomas W. Waldron and Michael James,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writer William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

As she prepares to challenge the results of the governor's election, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey released yesterday the names of seven voters who listed abandoned or razed buildings in Baltimore as their home addresses in voting records.

The incorrect addresses are evidence of voter fraud, aides to Mrs. Sauerbrey said.

"We're saying these people didn't vote," said one Sauerbrey adviser who briefed reporters on the condition that he not be identified by name.

But others, including city elections administrator Barbara Jackson, said incorrect registrations are common in Baltimore and not necessarily evidence of fraud. Many people fail to notify the election board when they move and continue to vote from their old address, she said.

"We don't spend days going out to see if a building is demolished or boarded up," Ms. Jackson said.

Mrs. Sauerbrey lost the election to Democrat Parris N. Glendening by a margin of 5,993 votes out of more than 1.4 million ballots cast.

Since then, Mrs. Sauerbrey has said she believes that voter fraud may have contributed to Mr. Glendening's victory, and all signs suggest that she will file a legal challenge to the election -- either in state or federal court, or in both -- by a Dec. 27 deadline.

Under the direction of out-of-state election experts, the Sauerbrey troops are focusing on the only three jurisdictions carried by Mr. Glendening -- Baltimore, as well as Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

Sauerbrey advisers said they have found about 500 voters in Baltimore who listed clearly incorrect addresses, including abandoned or nonexistent buildings, although they declined to release information on more than the seven.

Exhibit No. 1 was 932 Whitelock St., a boarded-up building in West Baltimore that was listed as the home address of three voters in last month's election.

Using motor vehicle, phone and other public records, The Sun was unable to locate any of the three voters -- Sammy Fuller, Samuel T. Myles Jr. and Annette L. Robinson. One neighborhood resident, Gilbert White, 37, said he remembered that the three had lived in the building before it was boarded up about a year ago.

Another resident, the Rev. Thomas F. Composto, known as the "Pope of Whitelock Street" because of his work to improve the blighted Reservoir Hill area, said he didn't know the whereabouts of any of the former residents at 932 Whitelock.

"There used to be four or five people living over there," Mr. Composto said. "I didn't know them all that well, but I think Sammy [Fuller] would have voted. He had concerns for the neighborhood."

Mr. Composto said he was upset with Mrs. Sauerbrey "for picking on Whitelock Street, as well as the rest of the city. Her approach to city people is extremely derogatory. She's spreading this idea that the city is full of liars, cheats, crooks and drug dealers," Mr. Composto said. "Her outlook is, 'If it's inside Lake Avenue, you don't set your foot inside it.' She's burning bridges between the city and the county."

The Sun did locate one voter identified by the Sauerbrey campaign, Ora L. Lewis, who listed 913 Whitelock St., a building that was razed several months ago, as her home address on her voter registration. Election records show that Ms. Lewis has been a registered city voter since at least 1984.

Ms. Lewis, 73, declined to say whether she voted last month or if she had ever lived at the Whitelock Street address. "If she's the governor, she should know if I voted," Ms. Lewis said. "It seems like to me she's a sore loser.

"God bless you. That's all I want to say," she added.

It's unclear how important the abandoned buildings might be to the anticipated Sauerbrey challenge.

Jack Schwartz, the assistant attorney general for opinions and advice, declined to comment on the legality of people voting from an incorrect address, saying his office was no longer "the disinterested observer."

"We have to assume that in the next 12 days there's going to be a lawsuit, which we assume is going to allege that the election boards -- which we represent -- did not do their job correctly," Mr. Schwartz said.

Anticipating a lawsuit, Bruce L. Marcus, Mr. Glendening's lead lawyer, is assembling a team of attorneys, which so far includes his partner, Robert C. Bonsib; George A. Nilson, a former deputy attorney general now with Piper & Marbury in Baltimore; and Joseph E. Sandler, general counsel for the Democratic National Committee in Washington.

Mr. Marcus said he also is calling on John Hardin Young, a Falls Church, Va., lawyer who represents the Democratic party in that state.

The Sauerbrey investigation is being led by John M. Carbone, a lawyer and election specialist from Ridgewood, N.J. who has handled about 200 cases in which elections were challenged or fraud alleged. Assisting him is another veteran, John D. Connors, deputy general counsel for the Republican National Committee.

Mrs. Sauerbrey also has hired the Washington law firm of Baker & Hostetler to handle the anticipated election challenge. Mr. Carbone said the firm's lawyers assigned so far to the case are Lee T. Ellis Jr. and Richard J. Leon.

Among the many former law enforcement officials helping Mrs. Sauerbrey are Michael C. Zotos, the former deputy commissioner of the Baltimore police, and William F. Rochford, a former city deputy police commissioner and former head of the Maryland Lottery Agency.

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