INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Fraud was committed to get the name of Barack Obama on the ballot in St. Joseph County in 2008. A guilty plea entered Thursday could leave a stain on the Obama victory.
At the center of this story is Butch Morgan, a longtime Democratic Party leader who lost his post as St. Joseph County chair when the scandal broke. Morgan is accused of telling three people to forge names on a ballot petition including Bev Shelton who pleaded guilty to forgery and fraud.
She has agreed to testify against the others.
"If she testifies truthfully," says Special Prosecutor Stan Levco, "we will recommend that she receives no jail time."
Morgan is scheduled to go on trial next month. In the meantime, there is speculation that the 2008 election could have turned out differently if not for crimes committed.
"You could argue that if President Obama wouldn't have been on the ballot," says State GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb, "would he have spent so much time and money?"
Obama won Indiana in 2008, something no Democrat running for President had done since 1964.
The forged signatures came from petitions for a candidate for governor and were placed on petitions for both Obama and Hillary Clinton, who won a narrow victory in the 2008 Indiana Democratic Primary. While that election is long over, Republicans still hope to take advantage of the voter fraud scandal.
"We're not trying to overthrow a past election result by any stretch of the means," says Holcomb, "but this just highlights that the Democratic Party in Indiana will go to any length to try to win an election."
But Republicans don't necessarily have the high ground here. This St. Joseph County voter fraud conviction follows last year's voter fraud conviction of GOP Secretary of State Charlie White, who was removed from office.
What's different this time is the fact that the crimes were committed in a race for the highest office in the land.
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