LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — It’s primary day, and the campaign for Maryland governor candidate Doug Gansler is distributing fake “Apple Ballots” at polling locations, according to the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA).
The Apple Ballot is a well-known election initiative of the MSEA, and lists the association’s recommended candidates in state and local races. Educators and volunteers hand out the paper slips to voters headed to the polls.
Sean Johnson, political and legislative affairs director at the Maryland State Education Association, says the apple shape and the words “teacher recommended” are both copyrights of the Montgomery County Education Association.
“This morning, in several locations in Montgomery County, our volunteers were met with a lookalike, fake apple ballot that was… created and distributed by Doug Gansler’s campaign for governor that reflects that teachers have supported or are supporting the Gansler campaign for governor,” Johnson says.
“When in fact, that’s just a deceptive move because he and hopefully other folks understand that Maryland educators are strongly supporting Anthony Brown’s campaign for governor.”
Johnson notes that he has never heard of a political campaign attempting a “direct ripoff” of the Apple Ballot such as the one reported at six different polling locations Tuesday morning.
“We are planning to go into Circuit Court today to seek an injunction for the immediate stoppage of the Gansler campaign and its volunteers distributing that material,” Johnson says.
As for the issue of copyright infringement, it “is something that we will certainly consider future legal action on to protect the integrity of the Apple Ballot and what it means to be endorsed by educators.”
Katie Hill, the Gansler campaign’s communications director, says the claims are just “an election day stunt by union bosses who have pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Anthony Brown’s campaign.”
“Contrary to what the union claims, there’s no issue with us passing out campaign literature,” Hill says.