Rokita's public pressure on Stewart to do his job is important because the statute of limitations is about to run on the case. "It would be his office’s decision to file and pursue formal charges," Mann observes. "Stewart hasn’t taken any action on the matter." "On Thursday, Rokita called on Stewart to file charges before a five-year statute of limitations passes in the spring 2008." "Once that passes, charges cannot be filed, Rokita said." So what is alleged to have been done that is fraudulent? In an e-mail to Mann, Rokita's office outlined the evidence:
[Deputy Secretary of State Paul] Okeson noted that the secretary’s office had received documented complaints of dozens of instances of illegal acts during that primary election that year. A few individuals were involved, but not identified by name at the press conference or in the e-mail.Mann's story notes that the reported allegations of vote fraud are not new. "The Evening News investigated such allegations involving elections in Clarksville in June, and found that the use of absentee ballots had dropped by about 60 percent between the 2003 primary election to the 2007 primary election — both of which were municipal election cycles," Mann writes.
The secretary’s office investigated the case and found what it called “substantial, verified evidence” that a Clark County resident engaged in illegal handling and marking of absentee ballots and illegal electioneering, such as telling someone how to vote, watching them mark his or her ballot and handling the ballot after it had been filled out.
The individual in question also allegedly conspired to commit voting fraud by facilitating voting from individuals no longer living within the precincts that they were registered in, Okeson’s e-mail noted.
Rokita said he believes any of the crimes committed during the 2003 elections are Class D felonies, each punishable by three years in prison and $10,000 in fines. He said further election fraud may have taken place in the 2007 primary election, but a formal investigation has not been filed for that primary . . .
[T]he secretary’s office said it had handed over numerous documents — including the name of a primary suspect, a list of witnesses and sworn statements taken by a court reporter — to county Prosecutor Steve Stewart in November.
This case is a perfect example of why we need more state oversight in these cases. Time and time again, prosecutors throughout the state fail to take charges of vote fraud seriously, particularly when it may involve members of their own party.