Illegal or not, 'relax' robocall was astonishingly pointless

The state prosecutor has a long way to go in his effort to prove that former Ehrlich aide Paul Schurick broke the law in the case of the "relax" robocalls that went out to mainly African-American households on election night 2010 in an apparent effort to dissuade likely supporters of Gov. Martin O'Malley from going to the polls. But the evidence presented so far in Mr. Schurick's trial underscores just how stupid and pointless the exercise was.

The call, in which a woman told would-be voters to "relax" and watch the returns on TV because Governor O'Malley and President Barack Obama (who was not on the ballot) had already been successful, went out to 112,000 households in Baltimore City and Prince George's County at 5:55 p.m., just over two hours before the polls were to close. Considering Governor O'Malley won the election by 14 percentage points, it's pretty clear that no amount of voter suppression at that point would have made a difference. Even at 2:53 p.m., when, according to prosecutors, Ehrlich campaign political director Bernie Marczyk wrote an email to Mr. Schurick asking, "What does Julius [Henson] need to make city turnout stay low?" it was surely too late.

But what if the Ehrlich campaign had signed on earlier that year to political consultant Julius Henson's $600,000 plan to suppress votes? It still probably wouldn't have mattered, even if Mr. Henson had been wildly successful.

Mr. O'Malley won the election by 268,642 votes and had margins of victory in Baltimore City and Prince George's County of 106,995 votes and 177,801 votes, respectively. That means the governor still would have won if Mr. Henson had kept every single voter in either jurisdiction, and very nearly ever voter in both, from going to the polls.

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