In the weeks leading up to the Maryland gubernatorial election in 2006, the campaign of then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.commissioned and distributed "voter guides" which were, in fact, filled with misinformation. The leaflets falsely implied that Mr. Ehrlich and Republican Senate nominee Michael Steele were Democrats and that they were endorsed by popular Democratic leaders including Kweisi Mfume and Wayne Curry. Four years later, Mr. Ehrlich's campaign manager, Paul Schurick, commissioned robocalls on Election Day in 2010 in primarily African-American districts, informing voters that the Democrats had already won and that they should stay home.
It is impossible to know how many people were confused or discouraged from voting by these malicious acts, but criminal or civil action against political operatives who willfully deceive voters can go a long way toward making sure it won't happen again. Unfortunately, under Maryland law, doing so is presently very difficult. In fact, the 2006 leaflets may have been legal under state law, which only prohibits attempts to suppress voters, not influence their choice under false information.