Whistleblower testifies in ballot petition fraud case

There was testimony today in the election fraud case against former St. Joseph County Democratic Party Chairman Butch Morgan and three former workers at voter registration.

While the trial isn’t scheduled to start until April 22nd, an alleged whistleblower today took the stand during a court hearing over evidence.

Lucas Burkett said he worked in the St. Joseph County Voter Registration office in 2008. Burkett said he attended a lunch hour meeting at Democratic Party headquarters in January of that year, where Butch Morgan ordered Burkett and others to forge names on petitions designed to get Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on Indiana’s Primary Election ballot.

When Burkett was asked if Butch Morgan was a man who could “hire and fire you,” Burkett replied, “yes.”

Burkett today identified a petition that he worked on because it contained the names of relatives he telephoned in advance to ask if it was okay to sign their names to his petition.

Burkett testified that he had reservations about the alleged forgery scheme and that he eventually decided not to do it anymore.

“We had some questions about whether these things should be admissible because of the way they were handled,” said Defense Attorney Jeff Kimmell.

The petitions are now more than four years old and for much of that time they sat unguarded in often-unlocked offices in Indianapolis where they may have been vulnerable to tampering.

“This was just a hearing today to determine admissibility of exhibits since there are so many,” said Kimmell. “The court decided to have a hearing that would decide that in advance of the trial as to whether or not the petitions would be admitted.”

St. Joseph Superior Court Judge John Marnocha today ruled from the bench that the petitions would be admitted into evidence despite concerns about chain of custody.

For instance, it’s not known who brought the alleged fraudulent petitions to the county voter registration office to be verified, because the receipts commonly issued for such petitions have since been destroyed.

Testimony also indicates that the alleged fraudulent petitions did not contain the initials of the worker responsible for checking the validity of the names, as was office policy.

Finally, the questionable petitions weren’t signed by the Republican board member in the Voter Registration office. Instead, a stamp of her signature was used.

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