10 Ways the U.S. Has Kept Citizens From Voting

Paul Schurick, campaign aide to former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., was found guilty in the robocall scandal in Baltimore on Feb. 16, 2012. Aaron Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

One tried-and-true ploy for suppressing voter turnout is to trick voters into not going to the polls. In 2008, for example, unidentified hoaxers in Virginia sent out a phony State Board of Elections flyer to several neighborhoods in the Hampton Roads area, advising that Republican voters should vote on Nov. 4 but Democrats needed to wait until Nov. 5 — in reality, the day after the election — because of a new plan to ease crowding at polling places [source: Walker].

In Maryland, a robocall during the 2010 gubernatorial election told thousands of voters in African-American neighborhoods that they could "relax "and stay home that evening, because Democratic incumbent Gov. Martin O'Malley already had won the election — even though, in reality, the polls had not closed.

In that case, Paul Schurick, the campaign manager for O'Malley's Republican opponent, former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. eventually was exposed as the culprit. Schurick was tried in 2011 and found guilty of four criminal charges, including election fraud and failing to include a notice that the Ehrlich campaign had authorized the calls. O'Malley won the election anyway [source: Broadwater]. Schurick was sentenced to 30 days of home detention, plus probation and community service [source: Davis].