By Paul Grindle
In 2016, a man asked the State of Maryland to think twice about their choice for Senate. Libertarian Party Vice Chairman Arvin Vohra announced to the world that he was running for Senate in order to “downsize, defund, and eliminate damaging federal government programs”. These platitudes were matched with a comprehensive set of specific pledges to reduce and remove huge federal programs and a repeated promise to cut taxes after each government reduction accordingly. His campaign offered Maryland the opportunity to elect a Senator that would fight tirelessly to push Libertarian solutions to big government problems all across the board.
According to the Maryland State Board of Elections website, Arvin Vohra was the Party Designated candidate of the Libertarian Party of Maryland as of January 28, 2016. Party minutes show the party’s Central Committee voted to nominate him unanimously in March. But on July 30, 2016, the last day before the deadline to submit the final paperwork for candidate nominations, the Committee held a meeting where, among other matters, they discussed Mr. Vohra’s candidacy.
As of the next day, according to the Maryland Board of Elections website, Arvin Vohra was listed as “Not Nominated by Party.” What does this mean? According to a phone representative of the Board of Elections, parties must fill out nomination forms and give them to their candidates, who then file the form with the BOE by the pre-established deadline. The representative said that if their website says a candidate was not nominated by their party, one of two scenarios occurred: the party did not fill out the nomination form, or the candidate did not turn in the nomination form.
Regardless of which scenario it is, the end result is the same: Arvin Vohra wasn’t running for U.S. Senate in 2016.
However, despite not being on the ballot, Mr. Vohra chose to falsely represent himself as a Senate candidate throughout the 2016 election cycle. The very day the BOE designated him “Not Nominated by Party,” he went on the Lions of Liberty podcast and pretended as if he was still running a campaign. Numerous websites were convinced he was still running.
But let’s consider one of the only possible defenses Mr. Vohra can mount: anyone could’ve written in his name for the Senate. All he has to do is tell someone he is running to be able to claim that he is “running” for Senate. And as he is a registered Libertarian who was the party designated candidate, he could argue that he was, technically, the Libertarian candidate for Senate in Maryland.
It’s a plausible enough reading of those facts that anti-incumbent advocacy website The Real Election called his campaign a write-in. But Maryland state law is quite clear on what it takes to run a write-in campaign. There is a pre-determined deadline by which write-in candidates must submit paperwork to the BOE notifying them of their candidacy. Without this paperwork, the BOE will not keep a tally of the candidate’s write-in votes. It is left to the reader to guess whether the name Arvin Vohra shows up in the listing of results for write-in candidates in the 2016 Senate election.
The evidence is as clear as the truth is painful. The Libertarian Party’s Vice Chair lied to the nation and to his party about running a Senate campaign in 2016.
Why did he do this? He could’ve admitted the truth and no one would’ve judged him for it. Libertarians don’t always end up victorious in getting on the ballot, and there is no shame in admitting when the machine wins. Why did the Libertarian Party of Maryland not call him out for this fraud? They had to know he was lying about his candidacy, as they were the party that ultimately did not nominate him. Though he was still listed on their website as of mid-August as a candidate, by mid-September his name had vanished.
When asked for comment, Vohra stated that he “missed a deadline, along with several other MDLP Candidates.”
Filing error. Not conspiracy.
And more importantly, was Libertarian Party Chairman and former LP Maryland member Nicholas Sarwark aware of these facts? If so, why did he say nothing? If not, what is he going to do now that he knows the truth?
This article is an opinion piece and does not reflect the views of 71 Republic LLC or its affiliates.