Indiana Lawmaker: Holder Absent on Primary Petition Fraud Case

The Obama administration is ignoring a petition forgery scandal unfolding in South Bend, Ind., a former top state elections official – now a U.S. congressman -- alleged Sunday, claiming he's still awaiting a response to a letter he's written to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the case.

Republican Rep. Todd Rokita, who served eight years -- from 2002 to 2010 -- as Indiana's secretary of state, told Fox News that he has not received a response from Holder on either charges of election fraud in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary in his state or other issues of election integrity.

"We have to involve U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. That's why I have written a letter to him, he has yet to respond to it, about this case. There are federal crimes for interfering with a federal election so he has jurisdiction. They are turning their heads on this and the ACORN cases that I brought to him," Rokita charged.

A criminal investigation is now underway by St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Dvorak into allegations that numerous signatures and names on Democratic Party petitions that put then-candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the primary ballot were forged.

Voters have told Fox News that their signatures and personal information were fraudulent, and that they never signed the petitions that were certified by the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Board.

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U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana David A. Capp has previously declined to investigate the allegations, citing a lack of federal jurisdiction.

"The U.S. attorney does not investigate allegations of fraud in the submission of petitions by political parties for the placement of the names of candidates on the ballot for federal primary elections," Dvorak said in a statement in October after discussions with Capp.

"They do, however, investigate fraud in voter registration, the actual voting process, and in the tabulation of ballots."

The alleged forgeries have raised the question of whether the Obama campaign actually filed the necessary number of legal signatures, 500 from each congressional district, to get on the state's primary ballot.

State elections officials say the Obama camp qualified in the 2nd Congressional District with 534 signatures, the Clinton team with 704. But an estimated 150 signatures between both petitions may have been forged, according to reports, leaving open the possibility that, in at least President Obama's case, the number of legal signatures that were required to put his name on the ballot fell short.

Rokita said the president "may not have" legally qualified for the primary ballot if the number of alleged forgeries dropped his primary bid below the 500 legitimate signatures required.

"If this type of stuff is happening in Indiana, it's happening everywhere," he said. "It happened because of overzealous cheaters. People are cheating the system.”

As the nation heads into the presidential race for 2012, Rokita warned that officials need to safeguard the integrity of the country's electoral process.

"You really need honest people in both parties looking after this process, this process only works when people are civically engaged, including party members and party workers who are paid, in this case, by the county to make sure the signatures are checked."

He also suggested that photo ID "would be the stopgap that catches some of these things, like ACORN in 2008, when they were filing fraudulent voter registrations."

Although photo ID, a controversial measure in other states, may not have been applicable to petition signatures, the Democratic chairman of St. Joseph County has proposed measures intended to prevent any wrong doing in the collection of signatures that is underway now.

State Sen. John Broden has suggested instituting random audits of signatures, a system of verifying their authenticity and keeping track of who collected signatures that are submitted.

Rokita said ultimately, the remedy is "a strong two or more party system making sure this job gets done."

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