WASHINGTON – The only way Barack Obama can win in Indiana is to cheat, one of John McCain’s stand-ins said Thursday, an allegation disputed by the Obama campaign and the state Democratic Party.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said votes have already been cast by “people who don’t exist” and that a national voter-registration effort is “trying to steal the election in Indiana.”
In a phone interview before headlining the Indiana Republican Party’s fundraising dinner in Indianapolis on Thursday night, Graham said Hoosiers are too smart to vote for Obama.
Democrats, he said, “can’t win fairly out here.”
Asked whether Democrats could win without cheating, Graham said, “No. They can’t win fairly out here ’cause their agenda is so far removed from the average Hoosier.
“We could lose, I suppose, if they cheat us out of it,” Graham said of Indiana’s 11 electoral votes. “I think the only way we lose a state like North Carolina or Indiana is to get cheated out of it.”
Kip Tew, a senior adviser to Obama’s campaign in Indiana, said Graham’s accusations are “highly irresponsible.” He said the Obama campaign deplores voter fraud.
He said for Graham to suggest that Indiana’s 92 election boards can’t operate elections fairly is insulting.
Graham said there’s “lots of energy by the Democratic Party. One thing we found out about Indiana: We’re getting people voting out here that don’t exist. Our friends at ACORN are trying to steal the election in Indiana.”
Voter registration forms submitted to election offices by ACORN – the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now – in some states are under fraud investigation.
Asked to identify nonexistent people who have voted in the presidential election, Graham said: “Have you been following the ACORN investigation out there? They’re registering people who don’t exist. There’re multiple registrations going on. One lady registered 11 times. I’m saying that the dynamic out here of voter fraud is something we’re concerned about.”
Dan Parker, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, said Graham’s allegations of fraudulent votes being cast in early voting are “absolutely not true.”
In a statement his office issued Thursday afternoon, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita said, “I’m being made aware of instances of voter registration fraud by ACORN and others, from all corners of the state and across the country. I take these very seriously.”
He did not say what action his office is taking or whether it had asked the FBI to investigate. Rokita did not provide specifics of the fraud he said had occurred.
Parker said any fraudulent voter registration forms are caught by county clerks or election boards. He said Indiana has the most restrictive voter ID law in the country, so the idea that an ineligible voter would actually cast a ballot “is ridiculous.”
ACORN’s Web site says it has registered 1.3 million people for the November election, including 23,090 in Indiana.
The Times of Northwest Indiana reported Tuesday that the Lake County elections board director said ACORN representatives submitted 2,000 new-voter applications last week.
Sally LaSota told the newspaper that “about 1,100 are no good” because the forms are incomplete or contain unreadable handwriting.