Would ’08 May ballot have been different?
SOUTH BEND - Minus suspected fakes, then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama likely fell short of the number of signatures needed to appear on the 2008 Indiana primary ballot, and it’s possible his opponent, Hillary Clinton, did as well, according to information obtained by The Tribune as part of an investigation into suspected ballot petition fraud.
Trent Deckard, Democratic co-director of the state Election Division, in an e-mail Thursday told The Tribune Obama’s 2008 petition for primary ballot placement in the state contained just 534 certified signatures in the 2nd Congressional District. Clinton’s petition contained 704 certified signatures, he said.
Presidential candidates must collect at least 500 signatures in each of the state’s nine congressional districts to appear on the statewide primary ballot in Indiana.
As reported Sunday, The Tribune, in conjunction with Howey Politics Indiana, has uncovered scores of fake signatures on both the Obama and Clinton petitions in the 2nd Congressional District and specifically St. Joseph County.
Dozens of people whose signatures appear on the Clinton petition have told The Tribune they did not sign the document, and Erich Speckin, a forensic document analyst hired by the paper and Howey Politics identified at least 19 suspected fake Obama petition pages.
Those Obama pages account for more than 100 signatures, meaning, minus the fakes, the former senator likely would not have qualified for ballot placement in the state.
Whether Clinton, a former senator and now secretary of state under Obama, would have qualified is harder to determine. The Tribune has identified 35 fake signatures on her petition in the district at this point.
That said, Speckin identified a number of suspected fake Clinton petition pages as well.
Clinton narrowly defeated Obama in the Indiana primary, and Obama won the state in his general election victory over John McCain.
No one challenged the petitions at the time.
Holcomb, who has called on the Department of Justice to investigate the Clinton and Obama petitions, also responded to a report that the suspected fake Obama petition pages passed through the county voter registration office on days when the Republican member of the office was out.
“The evidence currently suggests this was clearly not a clerical error or simple oversight,” Holcomb said. “Multiple crimes have been committed in a brazen violation of the public trust against the people of Indiana and our electoral process.”
As reported by The Tribune on Wednesday, the pages in question bear the stamped signature of Republican Linda Silcott. That indicates Silcott, who missed a number of days of work in early 2008 because of the death of her husband, was out at the time the documents passed through the office.
“With this latest development that the Republican board member was not even present to confirm the validity of these fraudulent signatures, yet another set of questions is raised,” Holcomb said.
“Were the forged forms purposely shepherded through the process knowing she was out of the office and approval would come easily? Where did the vetting process break down or was it meant to? … What knowledge did the Obama and Clinton campaign teams have of the effort to collect fraudulent signatures?”
Dvorak’s name and signature appear twice on the Clinton petition. He told The Tribune one of the signatures is his but did not respond to a question about the validity of a second signature sent to him a few days later, saying the matter was now under investigation.
The state Democratic Party declined to comment on the ballot question Thursday. It did, however, question the Election Division’s signature totals for Obama and Clinton in the 2nd District.
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