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Election Day Shenanigans

With the tired old excuse that everybody does it, the campaigns of Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele have sullied today's election with tactics that demean the candidates and the voters who support them. The Ehrlich and Steele campaigns today are distributing in black neighborhoods of Prince George's County and Baltimore city flyers that purport to be an "Official Voters Guide," but which actually set out to confuse and mislead voters in the most scurrilous manner.

"Steele-Ehrlich Democrats," reads the headline on the cover of the four-page handout. Then, under photos of Democrats Kweisi Mfume, Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson, and his predecessor, Wayne Curry, the flyer reads, "These are OUR Choices." The flyer then, under the headline "Democratic Sample Ballot," lists the full Democratic ticket--except that Democrats Martin O'Malley and Ben Cardin are replaced by Republicans Ehrlich and Steele. In this dirty trick, the GOP candidates are perfectly happy to sell the rest of the Republican ticket down the river.

Mfume and Johnson have endorsed the Democrats, not Ehrlich and Steele. Curry did endorse Steele, but not Ehrlich.
And of course, none of those Democrats approved the use of their names or images in these flyers.

To make matters worse, the flyers are being handed out by homeless and other poor people from Philadelphia who, according to some of the workers, were recruited by the Steele and Ehrlich campaigns and then bused in by Greyhound after being offered $100 and some donuts to come work for the Republican candidate. Some of the workers were even greeted upon their arrival by Kendel Ehrlich, the governor's wife.

Astonishingly, the governor defends his actions:

"If folks are here from out of town that's fine with me. That's what the Democrats have always done. It's legal and it's what the Democrats have done forever. This is a story? If we've finally caught up with the Democrats that's fine. People asked me about ballots and other stuff. That's not my job. I've got other things to do."

I'd like to think that voters are sharp enough to see through such lies and tomfoolery. But inevitably, some people will be deceived; otherwise, there'd be no motive for the campaigns to use such tactics.

Will this have any impact on tonight's results? Stand by.

And please join me at 8 tonight at washingtonpost.com/liveonline for an extended discussion of the election as the returns come in. Your comments, questions and voting observations are welcome.

By Marc Fisher |  November 7, 2006; 5:31 PM ET
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