1.) As usual, the accusers are overplaying the "link" between Obama and ACORN. There are some links. But, they are not as strong as some would like you to believe. Yes, ACORN favors Obama. Yes, ACORN gets out mostly Democratic, young and black voters. So, is their support of Obama supposed to be a surprise? Obama is a Democrat who has made it quite clear that he favors giving the poor and the middle class a fair shot. Again, Obama supporters are left to correct the record. And again, we're talking about something other than the real issues. And, in the process, ACORN gets smeared as Obama distances himself from an organization that actually does good work.
• Fact: Barack was never an ACORN community organizer.
• Fact: ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee.
• Fact: ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992
In his capacity as an attorney, Barack represented ACORN in a successful lawsuit alongside the U.S. Department of Justice against the state of Illinois to force state compliance with a federal voting access law. For his work helping enforce the law, called “Motor Voter,” Barack received the IVI-IPO Legal Eagle Award in 1995.
2.) The accusations against ACORN concern voter registration fraud, which is different than voter fraud (actually casting a false ballot). From my research, there is almost no chance of someone voting based on one of these phony registration cards. And, that's coming from more than one article, including this one in Ohio quoting the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
3.) ACORN is a favorite target of "conservatives" who disagree with their agenda of getting as many people as possible out to vote. As I said earlier, even though they are a non-partisan organization, their efforts do tend to register poor voters who might not otherwise register.
4.) The fraud here is against ACORN. They hire workers to collect the data. Some of them don't want to work. So, they make up phony cards. ACORN disciplines these people because it does ACORN no good to have them on their roles. I think ACORN made a great statement concerning their efforts and the charges. So, I will paste it here.
In my opinion voter suppression is a much bigger deal than voter registration "fraud". ACORN has no incentive to turn in fraudulent voter registration cards because they simply do not translate into votes. You cannot steal an election by registering "Mickey Mouse" and "Jive Turkey" then not having them show up to vote.
Just for the record, I'm not trying to cover up or suppress anything. If there is criminal systematic wrong-doing, I hope it's uncovered and the guilty parties are prosecuted. As is typical of this type of campaign (I refer to a Rovian smear campaign, not to John McCain's campaign per se), there is more than one thing being tossed out at a time.
The pattern is the same. Find a tenuous association with the candidate and an organization or person, smear that person or organization and then try to tie that back to the candidate. We've seen it time and time again. If the media doesn't pick up on your story, then accuse the media of "cover up". People who live in glass houses should keep their rocks in their pockets. What about the Alaska Independence Party (secessionists that Palin and her husband "pal around" with. When they say "Country First" do they mean Alaska or the United States since the founder of the AIP doesn't consider himself to be an American)? What about McCain's connections to gambling and the gambling industry? Why is that being covered up? What about McCain's ties to the "World Anti-Communist League" a group described by a former member as largely a collection of Nazis, Facists, anti-Semites, sellers of forgeries, vicious racialists and corrupt self-seekers? And, I could go on and on. I could fill this blog with stories and innuendo and even documentation about all of this stuff. You don't see the Democrats or the "Liberals on the left" pushing these stories, like you see the McCain campaign distracting us with this stuff that suddenly some of my conservative friends find so compelling.
I'm sorry. I don't see the relevance of ACORN anymore than I see the relevance of the crap I could throw on the wall about McCain. If there is systemic fraud going on, I'm sure people will get what they have coming to them. Until I see any evidence tying it to the Obama campaign and until I see evidence of actual fraudulent votes that have been cast (or even intent to cast fraudulent votes), as far as I'm concerned it's not a news story I'm particularly interested in. Call that turning a blind eye if you want. But, I only have two eyes and I'd prefer to keep them focused on the things that are important in these next 22 or 23 days.
After a similar spate of charges against ACORN in 2006, we learned that then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had fired Republican US Attorneys because they refused to prosecute ACORN for trumped up fraud charges. This was the heart of the US Atttorneygate scandal that led Karl Rove, Gonzales and other top Department of Justice officials to resign.
On Monday, October 6, as voter registration deadlines passed in most states, ACORN completed the largest, most successful nonpartisan voter registration drive in history. In partnership with the nonpartisan organization Project Vote, we helped register over 1.3 million low-income, minority, and young voters in a total of 21 states. Highlights of this success include:
We are proud of this unprecedented success, and grateful to everyone who supported us in this massive effort, from our funders and partners to the literally thousands of hardworking individuals across the country who dedicated themselves to the cause and conducted the difficult work of registering 1.3 million Americans, one voter at a time.
In the course of this work, we hired more than 12,000 registration workers to help people register. As with any business or agency that operates at this scale, there are always some people who want to get paid without really doing the job, or who aim to defraud their employer. Any large department store will have some workers who shoplift. Any large voter registration operation will have some workers who turn in bogus registration forms – not because the "Mickey Mouse" whose name they put on a registration form will ever attempt to vote on Election Day, but because they want to get paid without earning it. Only a small fraction of the workers we hire try to defraud ACORN in this way, but we obviously have a big stake in making sure people know we will turn them in and encourage prosecution when we catch them.
When a department store calls the police to report a shoplifting employee, no one says the department store is guilty of consumer fraud. But for some reason, when ACORN turns voter registration workers over to the authorities for filling out bogus forms, it gets accused of "voter fraud." This is a classic case of blaming the victim; indeed, the act is outrageous, libelous, and often politically motivated.
As The Nation pointed out recently, ACORN's success in registering millions of low-income and minority voters has made it "something of a right-wing bogeyman." Though ACORN believes that the right to vote is not, and should never be, a partisan issue, attacks from groups threatened by our historic success continue to come, motivated by partisan politics and often perpetuated by the media without full investigation of the facts.
These stories typically lump together "incomplete" voter registration cards (applications missing key information) with "erroneous" or "fraudulent" voter registration applications. These distinctions are important, yet few media outlets discuss them. Predictably, however, partisan forces have tried to use these isolated incidents to incite fear of the "bogeyman" of "widespread voter fraud." But we want to take this opportunity to set the record straight and tell you a few facts to show how these incidents really exemplify everything that ACORN is doing right:
Fact: ACORN has implemented the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field but in almost every state we are required to turn in ALL completed applications, even the ones we know to be problematic.
Fact: ACORN flags in writing incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards when we turn them in. Unfortunately, some of these same officials then come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in phony cards. In many cases, we can actually prove that these are the same cards we called to their attention.
Fact: Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card. ACORN has a zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in the cases where our internal quality controls have identified this happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to election officials and law-enforcement.
Fact: No criminal charges related to voter registration have ever been brought against ACORN or partner organizations. Convictions against individual former ACORN workers have been accomplished with our full cooperation, using the evidence obtained through our quality control and verification processes — evidence which in most cases WE called to the attention of authorities.
Fact: There has never been a single proven case of anyone, anywhere, casting an illegal vote as a result of a phony voter registration. Even if someone wanted to influence the election this way, it would not work. Think of the risk someone would have to be motivated to take. They would be a sitting duck to be nabbed and prosecuted.
Fact: Most election officials have recognized ACORN's good work and praised our quality control systems. Even in the cities where election officials have complained about ACORN, the applications in question represent less than 1% of the thousands and thousands of registrations ACORN has collected.
Fact: Our accusers not only fail to provide any evidence, they fail to suggest a motive: there is virtually no chance anyone would be able to vote fraudulently, so there is no reason to deliberately submit phony registrations. ACORN is committed to ensuring that the greatest possible numbers of people are registered and allowed to vote, so there is also NO incentive to "disrupt the system" with phony cards.
Fact: Similar accusations were made, and attacks launched, against ACORN and other voter registration organizations in 2004 and 2006. These attacks were not only groundless, they have since been exposed as part of the U.S. Attorneygate scandal and revealed to be part of a systematic partisan agenda of voter suppression. Unfortunately, at this time of year, partisan forces and politicians seeking to portray themselves as "fraud-busters" can’t resist the temptation to try again. As David Iglesias (former Republican US Attorney in New Mexico who was forced from office) has said, he refused Karl Rove's and Alberto Gonzales pressure to charge ACORN with voter fraud, because he knew ACORN was innocent of that charge. And another US Attorney, Bradley Schlozman, who did politicize prosecutions against former ACORN canvassers, was forced to acknowledge under cross examination by the Senate Judiciary Committee that ACORN was the victim of fraud by its employees and ACORN had caught the employees and had identified them to law enforcement.
These are the facts, and the truth is that a relatively small group of political operatives are trying to orchestrate hysteria about "voter fraud" and manufacture public outrage that they can use to justify fraudulently challenging voters at the polls and other schemes to suppress the votes of millions of low-income and minority Americans.
These tactics are nothing new, and history has shown that they will come to nothing. We'll continue to weather the storm, as we’ve done for years, and we'll continue to share the truth about our work and express pride about our accomplishments.
Most importantly, we want to assure you that this good work continues, unabated and undeterred. ACORN will not be intimidated, we will not be provoked, and in this important moment in history we will not allow anyone to distract us from these vital efforts to empower our constituencies and our communities to speak for themselves. If the partisan political machines are afraid of low-income and minority voters, they’re going to have to do a lot better than coming after ACORN.
Our work is far from over: now begins our effort to mobilize these new voters around local and national issues, getting them to the polls and helping to channel their commitment and conviction into an ongoing movement for change in our communities.
After all, there are now at least 1.3 million more registered voters in this country, and they will not be silenced. They're taking an interest, and taking a stand, and they'll be taking their concerns to the voting booth in November.
And ACORN will be here, to make sure that the voices of these Americans are heard, on Election Day and for every day to come.