The Corner

Election Fraud Tainted the 2008 Presidential Race in Indiana

Those who oppose strengthening election integrity through commonsense measures like voter ID or requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote often claim that election fraud is rare and largely inconsequential. They really are having a bad couple of days. As John Fund points out, James O’Keefe has struck again, sending in a white undercover operative to successfully ask for Attorney General Eric Holder’s ballot in his own precinct in Washington, D.C., which has no ID requirement. And PJ Media also recently released a video showing that, while you don’t need an ID to get the attorney general’s ballot, you do need an ID to get into the building where the attorney general works.

The latest fraud case in Indiana shows how foolish the claim is that no election fraud exists or that it is “inconsequential.”

Four Democratic party officials, including the St. Joseph County chairman Butch Morgan, have been charged with conspiracy, forgery, and official misconduct in the 2008 presidential primary election. Morgan allegedly ordered three county officials to duplicate signatures from a 2008 petition for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Schellinger onto petitions for then-presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Republican member of the Board of Voter Registration’s signature, which is required for final authorization of all petitions, was apparently then rubber stamped without her knowledge. In Indiana, a candidate must secure 500 signatures from each of the state’s nine congressional districts in order to appear on the ballot. Then-senator Barack Obama barely qualified for the ballot with 534 signatures.

#more#The South Bend Tribune collaborated with an independent political newsletter, Howey Politics Indiana, to conduct an investigation of the allegedly fake signatures. Erich Speckin, an expert forensic document analyst, told the paper that up to 270 of the ballot signatures for candidate Obama were fraudulent. “It’s obvious. It’s just terribly obvious” that the signatures on the various pages were made by the same hand, Speckin said after reviewing the documents. Previous investigations have already found no fewer than 150 fraudulent signatures on the petitions.

There exists the real possibility, then, that systematic voter fraud led to Obama’s name appearing on a ballot in a state where he would not have otherwise been qualified.

The fraud came to an end after a source from inside the county Democratic party who had participated personally in the scheme approached local investigators. Lucas Burkett attended meetings at the local Democratic party headquarters where Morgan ordered the forgeries. Investigators then compared the signatures on Obama and Clinton petitions to the signatures on file for registered voters, and contacted the voters whose names appeared on the forms, in order to confirm the signatures were forgeries.

Many common citizens were shocked and dismayed to see their own name and personal information on a petition they had supposedly signed four years earlier. “It’s scary. A lot of people have already lost faith in politics . . . and that solidifies our worries and concerns,” Mishawaka resident Charity Rorie told Fox News.

Now Morgan and the other Democratic officials could face several years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. In a twist of happenstance that would be comical if it weren’t so serious, the court had to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case after the county prosecutor’s own forged signature appeared on a petition!

Morgan was a veteran county party official, working for a political party that has dominated northern Indiana for nearly two decades. The exact extent of the corruption is unknown. As Dr. Deb Fleming, St. Joseph County’s Republican chairwoman, pointed out to the South Bend Tribune, “I’m sure there are other things. They’ve just never gotten caught. Because they’ve been in control of St. Joseph County for so long, they felt they could get away with it.”

Indiana’s voter-ID requirement for in-person voting would not have stopped this type of petition fraud. But it illustrates that there are people — including party activists — who are willing to cheat and defraud the public in order to win elections. Local party officials in Indiana apparently forged voter signatures to make sure their candidates were on the ballot. If this had been detected in 2008 and Barack Obama had been disqualified from the Indiana ballot, what would that have done to his presidential campaign?

There is no telling what other deceitful and illegal measures these local party officials were willing to take (or have taken in the past without detection) to steal an election. That is why we need to take steps throughout the voter registration, voting, and election process to secure the integrity of our elections. Voter ID is just one of the precautions necessary for a fair and honest vote.

— Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a former FEC Commissioner, and the former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.

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