Congressional candidate charged with illegal voting

Former Maryland congressional candidate Wendy W. Rosen was charged Thursday with illegally voting in two elections and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt charged Rosen, 58, with casting ballots in 2006 and 2010 in Baltimore County even though her legal residence was in Florida. Rosen, a Cockeysville Democrat, ran against Republican Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st Congressional District this year.

Maryland and Florida both held gubernatorial and congressional contests in 2006 and 2010.

Rosen told The Baltimore Sun in September that she could not remember whether she had voted in both states.

Rosen's attorney, Andrew C. White, said Thursday that they have been cooperating with the state prosecutor.

The controversy — which was brought to light by state Democratic leaders two months before the Nov. 6 election — forced Rosen to withdraw from the race, though her name remained on the ballot. She received more than 92,800 votes, about 28 percent of all ballots cast.

In addition to possible prison time, the charges also carry a fine of up to $5,000, prosecutors said.

"Illegal voting is an offense that strikes at the very heart of our electoral process," Davitt said in a statement.

Rosen, who runs a publishing business, had a tough fight for the Democratic nomination but ultimately beat Chestertown physician John LaFerla by 57 votes in the primary. Even before the voting controversy arose, Harris had been considered a safe bet to beat Rosen in the general election.

The district includes the Eastern Shore as well as parts of Harford, Carroll, Cecil and Baltimore counties.

Rosen said in September that she was eligible to register to vote in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area because she owned property there. She said she did so to help a friend who was running for City Council.

State law prohibits a Maryland voter from maintaining a registration in a second state if it allows the voter to participate in state or federal elections there.

Rosen's withdrawal from politics came amid a highly charged presidential election in which both Republicans and Democrats had warned of the potential for voter fraud.

ecox@baltsun.com

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john.fritze@baltsun.com

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