WASHINGTON At a hearing today before the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) asked
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to investigate instances of voter intimidation and fraud that took place in Maryland during the final days of last Novembers election. Last fall in Maryland, two state-wide candidates distributed blatantly deceptive literature at the polls and there were additional instances of voter intimidation and mismanagement by election officials.
On Election Day in Maryland, thousands of voters were greeted at the polls with campaign literature that can only be described as deceptive, misleading and fraudulent, said Sen. Cardin. But these pieces of literature were not anonymously produced. They were financed directly by two state-wide candidates for the purpose of misleading African American voters. The Election Day tactics we saw in Maryland were not isolated incidents. Voter intimidation still occurs in America and I encourage Attorney General Gonzales to investigate it in our state and across the nation.
The misleading literature clearly targeted African American voters by asserting that popular African American Democratic leaders had endorsed the Republican candidates for Governor and Senate when in fact they had endorsed the Democratic candidates. It was mailed and distributed to voters in Prince Georges County, a predominantly African American jurisdiction, and in African American communities in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) requested a Justice Department investigation of the campaign fliers in Maryland. Attorney General Gonzales denied that request. Sen. Cardin today asked the attorney general to reconsider that decision in order to help prevent candidates from distributing such misleading information in the future.
Sen. Cardin also asked Attorney General Gonzales to review additional instances of Election Day problems that disproportionably affected African American communities in Maryland. At many polling places in Prince Georges County, voters had to wait two to three hours to cast their ballots because there was a shortage of voting machines.
Minority communities continue to be disproportionably affected by voter intimidation and problems at the polls, said Sen. Cardin. I strongly believe that every eligible voter should have an opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidate he or she chooses. Thats what makes our democracy work. When the polls are poorly managed and citizens cant vote, we need to figure out why and ensure that it never happens again.