SNOW HILL — Investigations into accounts of voter suppression during the last Snow Hill election in May have been transferred to Somerset County State’s Attorney Daniel W. Powell, despite the protests of the man bringing the claims.
“We would have preferred that our State’s Attorney investigated the matter,” said Edward S. Lee, a member of the Snow Hill Circle of Leaders who is spearheading the request for an investigation.
Lee asserted that the “outcome of this decision could have statewide implications” and should have been handled by someone familiar with the area that is also known by the community.
“I do not know the State’s Attorney in Somerset County; I do not know what he stands for or his beliefs,” said Lee.
Lee has accused Snow Hill’s recently-elected Mayor Charlie Dorman of “voter suppression” including stuffing campaign literature into absentee ballots, unauthorized surveillance of voters and intercepting and interfering with leaflets from a local church and using them to self-promote his bid at election.
For his part, Dorman declined to comment on Lee’s accusations at the time, only saying that he was willing to wait for the investigation to “run its course” and doesn’t expect any wrongdoing to be confirmed.
“When it comes back it will prove, I’ve done nothing wrong,” Dorman said.
Before winding up in Powell’s hands over in Somerset County, exactly who would head the investigation seemed uncertain. While Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby would appear the most likely to have purview over a case in Snow Hill, he took the position that he did not have jurisdiction and forwarded the issue onto Emmet C. Davitt, Maryland State Prosecutor.
After that move, the investigation stalled in limbo for weeks. At first, Davitt’s office reported never receiving the request to investigate. Eventually, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler was brought into the mix.
“Mr. Lee has contacted the office and we have made inquiries to see where the matter stands,” confirmed David Paulson, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.
Several weeks after Gansler was contacted, Davitt’s office came to the conclusion that because it concerned a municipal election matter, the onus to investigate actually does fall on Oglesby.
With the case back on the Eastern Shore, Oglesby felt his office should not be taking point in the matter. Powell confirmed that Oglesby asked his office to probe the matter and that it will soon begin.
Though the investigation shows every sign of moving forward, Lee is not happy that it has left Worcester.
“The committee feels that any prosecutor will face the same pressures as Mr. Oglesby,” Lee said.