Republicans want aggressive poll watchers

Nov. 2, 2006 at 8:37 PM
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ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A Republican guide for Maryland poll watchers gives detailed instructions on challenging voters and urges poll watchers to be aggressive.

The guide says poll watchers should tell election judges they could be sentenced to 30 days in jail for failing to respond to a challenge, the Washington Post reported.

Maryland has tight statewide races for governor and U.S. senator, and black turnout in Baltimore could be critical to the outcome. A Washington Post poll found that Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley would beat incumbent Gov. Robert Ehrlich by 10 points if black turnout was 25 percent, but 19 percent turnout made the race too close to call.

Democrats charge that the Republican Party is trying to keep turnout down.

"The tenor of the material is that they are asking folks, if not directing them, to challenge voters," said Bruce L. Marcus, a lawyer for the state Democratic Party. "It's really tantamount to a suppression effort."

Republican leaders say their only interest is an honest vote.

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