Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet. As the board of election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where Cleveland is located, launches an investigation into illegal crossover voting in the state's 2008 presidential primary, a big open question remains unanswered: Will county officials go after the ringleaders of apparently illegal electioneering where thousands of Republican voters swore -- under penalty of law -- allegiance to the Democratic Party in order to vote for Hillary Clinton?
In case you missed it, Rush Limbaugh, the nation's top-rated talk radio host, was urging Republicans in Texas and Ohio to skip their party's primary on March 4 and instead cast a vote for Hillary Clinton in order to prolong the fight between her and Barack Obama. And that Tuesday, as media in both states reported, thousands of Republicans did just what Limbaugh and others had suggested -- they changed parties to vote for Clinton.
"I want Hillary to stay in this, Laura," Limbaugh told Laura Ingraham on Feb. 29, near the start of his Hillary crusade. "This is too good a soap opera. We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically, and it's obvious that the Republicans are not going to do it and don't have the stomach for it, as you probably know."
And on Wednesday, the day after the Ohio primary, Fox News asked Clinton if she owed Limbaugh a thank you. "Be careful what you wish for, Rush," she replied. Later that day, Limbaugh played the Fox tape on his show and said, "How do you interpret this, folks? She could have said thank you. She could have said thank you! In fact, I was expecting in her victory speech last night to be thanked.
"I helped give Mrs. Clinton the biggest and happiest moment and night of the campaign season so far, maybe her life, and she tells me, "Be careful what you wish for, Rush"? Why, that sounds like a threat, does it not? I've got a Democrat presidential candidate threatening your host. Why, I am stunned! After all I did ..."
While this all makes for great talk radio and sounds like fun, there is one catch: What Limbaugh encouraged Republican voters to do in Ohio was a fifth-degree felony in that state, punishable with a $2,500 fine and six to 12 months in jail. That is because in order to change party affiliation in Ohio, voters have to fill out a form swearing allegiance to that party's principles "under penalty of election falsification."
On Thursday, March 20, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the "Cuyahoga County Board of Election has launched an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against voters who maliciously switched parties for the March 4 presidential primary." According to the report, "One voter scribbled the following addendum to his pledge as a new Democrat: "For one day only."
"Such an admission amounts to voter fraud," the report continued, attributing that conclusion to BOE member Sandy McNair, a Democrat. The report said the four-member board -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- had yet to vote on whether it would issue subpoenas, although Ohio's secretary of state, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, is empowered to cast tie-breaking votes when the BOE is deadlocked. (More)