Suspected fake petition pages to place Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the ballot during the 2008 Indiana primary passed through the county voter registration office on days when the Republican head of the office was absent, The Tribune has learned.

The pages in question bear the stamped signature of Republican Linda Silcott, indicating Silcott was not in the office at the time to sign the documents by hand. By comparison, most of the other, non-suspicious pages examined by The Tribune contain Silcott’s written signature.

Meanwhile, 13 more St. Joseph County residents whose signatures appear on the petitions, including former South Bend mayor and Indiana governor Joe Kernan, have come forward to say they did not sign the documents, and the Indiana Republican Party has called for a federal investigation into the matter.

“How deep does this problem go?” state GOP Chair Eric Holcomb asked. “Is it isolated to St. Joseph County or was it a broader, coordinated effort across the state? … Who forged the signatures and why?”

Typically, petition pages in St. Joseph County are signed by hand by both the Republican and Democratic members of the Board of Voter Registration.

In early 2008, however, Silcott missed a number of days of work because of the death of her husband. Consequently, her first deputy, Mary Carrol Ringler, often stamped Silcott’s signature on the pages.

Each of the suspected fake petition pages bears Silcott’s stamped signature, indicating the documents passed through the office on days when she was off.

Though Ringler was the only person permitted to use the stamp, she kept it in an unlocked desk drawer, Silcott said.

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