Like many of you I have been reading with interest the series of reports in the South Bend Tribune about alleged fraud involving signatures on petitions tied to the 2008 Indiana Primary.
First let me say a tip of the journalistic hat is much deserved to the Tribune. This is exactly the kind of local reporting that always made newspapers important and can keep them viable today.
I would like to add a few thoughts because – and I will admit it for the first time – once a news guy, always a news guy.
First a little background for those of you who have not read the reports. The evidence at the moment strongly suggests that someone, or more than just someone, forged signatures and addresses on numerous “petitions” needed to get presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the 2008 Indiana Primary ballot. Under Indiana law a statewide candidate (which would include Senate and Governor) needs 500 legitimate registered voters to sign petitions in each congressional district.
It has been pointed out that Indiana has one of the highest-raised bars in the country when it comes to getting names on the statewide ballot. Apparently only Virginia requires more.
Some have said this has become a daunting task in Indiana. I think that is rubbish and never more so than it was in 2008. Considering the level of interest in the race between Clinton and Obama, I daresay that a couple of hard working, honest and dedicated volunteers could have gotten 500 signatures on the east side of South Bend.
I do not believe this “cheating” came from the top tiers of either national or state campaign, and I do not think it came from just one of the camps because it appears the fakery applied to getting both names on the ballot.
It could very well be that sheer laziness on the part of some local Democrats was behind this. It could also be they have done it this way for some time and just never got caught.
OR it could be that local Democrats were so giddy at the prospect of the primary finally being important for the first time in 40 years that they went to drastic measures to make sure a glitch did not derail their moment in the sun.
This is not Watergate; then again, Watergate was a national scandal. By local standards this is a doozey and needs to be investigated until all questions are answered. The last thing we need right now is even less faith in the system.
I also believe this should be a federal investigations and, if for some technicality, the feds do not think it comes under their jurisdiction then an outside prosecutor should be given the case.
For the sake of clarity it is important to point out that I did some volunteer work for the Obama local campaign in 2008. That work was exclusively fixing pots of chili and stew to feed the mostly unpaid staff and I registered about three dozen voters, all legit and I never did ask whom they might vote for.
But that is what really ticks me off. I think a few shady political hacks could give a bad name to dozens upon dozens of volunteers in St. Joseph County who gave their time and poured their hearts into something they believed in deeply.
All of them and all of you need to keep vigilant that this does not happen again.
And that somebody pays a price for what has already happened.