Incredible Shrinking Case

January 14, 1995

Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Raymond G. Thieme left little doubt yesterday in his ruling against Republican Ellen Sauerbrey's effort to overturn the Nov. 8 election for governor that it wasn't a close call: Not even the data she was using to prove fraud was accurate.

It became "the incredible shrinking case" with Republican forces initially alleging collusion, fraud and vote-rigging on a massive scale covering some 51,000 votes. By the close of arguments, the sweeping charges had disappeared and the votes still in question numbered only 3,600 -- not nearly enough to reverse Mrs. Sauerbrey's 5,993-vote loss to Democrat Parris Glendening.

Remember all those "dead voters" Mrs. Sauerbrey had flamboyantly proclaimed existed? In the end, it turned out her information was seriously in error -- and that most of them not only existed but had legally voted (some for her).

Remember those 4,700 prisoners who were alleged to have voted illegally? By trial's end the list had shrunk to 10 -- and the judge said even that conclusion was based on faulty information.

Remember all those "voters" who had "lived" in abandoned or torn-down houses? Mrs. Sauerbrey grabbed headlines on that one, but never presented any evidence in court to support her claim.

Remember the 40,000 people who had moved and allegedly cast improper ballots? That was based on fatally flawed information.

For nearly every allegation of fraud and illegality, there was a rational and sensible explanation that the Sauerbrey camp had overlooked or intentionally ignored. Her lawyers were left with novel and unproven statistical theories and evidence that kept crumbling before their very eyes. They also bungled the case by missing court-imposed deadlines and withholding evidence from the defense.

Through it all, Mrs. Sauerbrey remained unyielding. "This election was stolen and the ballots were stuffed," she said. If that were true, why didn't she prove it in court? Who did it? How? It's not enough simply to level unproven charges.

Having failed miserably to make a solid case in circuit court, Mrs. Sauerbrey now is taking the matter to other courts. She refuses to admit the obvious -- that she lost the Nov. 8 election to Mr. Glendening. And whenever she doesn't get her way, Mrs. Sauerbrey is staging public temper tantrums, charging "fraud" and "robbery." She is destroying her credibility.

Ellen Sauerbrey had her day in trial court. Her case proved an embarrassment. There were, indeed, problems in Baltimore City that must be fixed, as Judge Thieme noted. It may not have been a perfect election, but it was, overall, a fair one.

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