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Trial begins for alleged election officials' fraud aiding Obama

Trial begins for alleged election officials' fraud aiding Obama, A federal trial began in South Bend, Ind., on Monday for two suspects accused of being part of a plot that has raised questions over whether Senator Barack Obama's 2008 campaign -- against fellow Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton -- gathered and submitted enough legitimate signatures to have Obama's name legally listed on the presidential primary ballot, according to the indictment.

The two suspects face charges of creating and implementing an illegal operation to submit fraudulent petitions that allowed then-candidate Obama to illegally qualify for the presidential race in the state of Indiana.

Former Saint Joseph County Democratic Party Chairman Owen "Butch" Morgan, Jr., is being tried for several counts of conspiracy to commit petition fraud, while former county Board of Elections worker Dustin Blythe is charged with nine forgery counts and one count of falsely making a petition of nomination. The charges against Morgan and Blythe are all felonies.

Morgan was allegedly the "ringleader" behind the scam. He's accused of ordering Democratic Party officials and workers to enter phony names and signatures on petitions that Obama needed to qualify for the presidential race. Blythe, then a Board of Elections employee and Democratic Party volunteer, is accused of carrying out those orders by forging signatures on Obama's petitions.

Two other former Board of Elections officials have already pleaded guilty to charges regarding the election fraud and are expected to give courtroom testimony against Morgan and Blythe.

Former board worker Beverly Shelton pleaded guilty last month to charges of forging a petition. The board's former Democratic head of voter registration, Pam Brunette, pleaded guilty early April to felony forgery, official misconduct, and submitting a fraudulent petition.

According to statements from investigators, a former Board of Registration worker named Lucas Burkett told them he was part of Morgan and Blythe's scheme until he realized what he was doing was illegal and it caused him to feel uneasy so he quit.

Unfortunately, Burkett kept quiet for three years before informing law enforcement officials about it. The Indiana trial has raised questions about whether in 2008, candidate Obama actually submitted enough legitimate signatures to have legally qualified to have his name on the ballot.

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