Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Former Gov. Joe Kernan Says His Name Was Forged On 2008 Obama Primary Petition

The petition-forging scandal enveloping the 2008 Indiana primary presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is deepening. Former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan has come forward and told a South Bend Tribune reporter that a signature purporting to be his on one of the Obama petitions is a forgery."No, not at all," Kernan said when asked if the signature next to his name on the Obama petition looked like his own. "Nor does the printing look like mine." Kernan is among a dozen Democrats who have stepped forward to claim their signatures had been forged on the presidential primary ballot petitions following a bombshell joint investigative report published this past weekend by the South Bend Tribune and Howey Politics, which concluded that up to hundreds of signatures contained on the petitions were forged by one or two persons.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker has acknowledged that fraud took place, but he insists there were not enough signatures forged to have made a difference in either Obama or Clinton qualifying for the hotly-contested Indiana primary in May, 2008. Parker has also attempted to deflect blame for the forgery scandal by noting that a Republican elections official in St. Joseph County signed off on the petitions filed by the Obama and Clinton campaigns. The South Bend Tribune, however, has since learned that the Republican official was actually out of the office for several days when the petitions in question were filed. A stamped signature bearing her name was affixed to the petitions in question by a new employee of the elections staff who was in her first week of work on the job during her absence. The same cannot be said for the veteran Democratic employee of the office who signed off on the petitions. Erin Blasko explains:

Suspected fake petition pages to place Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the ballot during the 2008 Indiana primary passed through the county voter registration office on days when the Republican head of the office was absent, The Tribune has learned.
The pages in question bear the stamped signature of Republican Linda Silcott, indicating Silcott was not in the office at the time to sign the documents by hand. By comparison, most of the other, non-suspicious pages examined by The Tribune contain Silcott's written signature . . .
Typically, petition pages in St. Joseph County are signed by hand by both the Republican and Democratic members of the Board of Voter Registration.
In early 2008, however, Silcott missed a number of days of work because of the death of her husband. Consequently, her first deputy, Mary Carrol Ringler, often stamped Silcott's signature on the pages.
Each of the suspected fake petition pages bears Silcott's stamped signature, indicating the documents passed through the office on days when she was off.
Though Ringler was the only person permitted to use the stamp, she kept it in an unlocked desk drawer, Silcott said.
In addition, Ringler only began working in voter registration on Jan. 22, 2008. The suspicious petition pages are dated Jan. 28 and 29 and Feb. 4 and 5, within the first two weeks of her arrival.
Ringler told The Tribune Tuesday she could not recall how often she used the stamp during the 2008 primary. "Honestly, I don’t know," she said. "I know I didn’t do a lot petitions that year because I was brand new." She said she mainly uses it on purchase orders now.
Pam Brunette's written signature also appears on the backs of the suspicious petition pages. She is the Democratic member of the Board of Voter Registration.
Brunette did not respond Tuesday to a call seeking comment about the stamped pages. She said last week that voter registration workers “are not handwriting experts, so our job is basically making sure the papers are complete.”
Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White, who has been plagued the past year by Democratic efforts to prove he committed vote fraud during his election for his office by casting a vote at his ex-wife's home, has refused to comment publicly on the petition-forging scandal. White is considered the state's top elections officer, although the Indiana Elections Division administers the enforcement of Indiana's election laws. Yesterday, he filed a complaint in his individual capacity against U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and his wife, Susan, accusing them of vote fraud and homestead exemption fraud. Indiana GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb has called for a Justice Department investigation. St. Joseph Co. Prosecutor Michael Dvorak, a Democrat, is reportedly probing the matter. He, however, has acknowledged that one of the two signatures of his that appeared on the Clinton petitions was forged. Democratic officials insisted last year that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate Charlie White's alleged vote fraud, which occurred and resulted in the special prosecutor obtaining a multi-count criminal indictment against him by a Hamilton Co. grand jury, even though the state Recount Commission, including the vote of the Democratic member, later unanimously cleared White of being an illegally registered voter as charged by the Democrats.

Hypocrisy really knows no bounds when it comes to the Democratic Party. To think these same people had one of their paid campaign staffers, Blue Indiana blogger Thomas Cook, file a complaint seeking to block Sen. John McCain's placement on the Indiana Republican primary ballot in 2008 because his campaign allegedly failed to file a sufficient number of signatures at the same time they were engaged in serial forgery to obtain sufficient signatures for their candidates. Cook, who has since become a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett, has used his Twitter account to poke fun at the investigative report uncovering the serial forgery and bemoaning the fact that he didn't get a mention for his role in challenging McCain's ballot petitions.


Eclecticvibe said...

As someone who's submitted ballot access petitions for Green Party candidates, I've never seen officials treat signatures haphazardly. Outside of Marion County, signatures have regularly been disqualified for sligh discrepancies from that of the signer, or any other small difference, like writing the date in the wrong style. It hasn't just been Democrat, but Republicans have treated signatures in exactly the same way. It seems that ballot access signatures are merely a formality which can be bipassed if you're from one of the two legacy parties. If all parties were treated equally Ralph Nader would have made the Indiana ballot in 2000 and Bill Stant would have been on the ballot giving the Green Party a shot at ballot access in 2006.

Gary R. Welsh said...

That's a common complaint from the Libertarian Party as well.