Sunday, October 19, 2008

Voter Fraud Malarkey

ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has been accused of widespread voter fraud which is all in a word - bullshit. I actually have been trying to work for their legal organization - Project Vote - to no avail so far. What I know about ACORN is though I have problems with some of their work, they are not involved in widespread voter fraud, in fact they do the work of getting those to vote who have the most to lose.

To do this, they hire people to go around signing up the unregistered, killing two birds with one stone - giving employment to people who need it (some with criminal records) and providing the opportunity to vote to members of minority communities whose voices all too often go unheard. What happens is that some of those hired to do the registering, who are paid by the name, make people up. As a result, you'll discover that among the registrants are such obvious fakes as Mickey Mouse and the starting line-up of the Dallas Cowboys, among others. This is all known and I have seen this operation in action in Pittsburgh. It is chaos. Though, we witnessed a GOTV operation people were showing up at the office for $25 for a day's work. All poor people, all in the neighborhood. But, in the absence of a void to register and get those disenfranchised to vote it is tough to criticize.

Regardless, this is where the GOP yells loudly every election cycle that democrats are stealing the election and allows their own highly sophisticated voter suppression tactics to run their course. Besides, a point of clarification, voter fraud does not take place in registering voters - it takes place in voting when you should not. And to think that Mickey Mouse is going to show up and vote in Indiana is ludicrous.

What so irritated me is McCain's charge at the debate "We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN, who [sic] is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy." Are you kidding me? Here are the facts:

ACORN has registered 1.3 million voters and maintains that in virtually every instance it is ACORN that has reported the incidents of fraud. In fact, ACORN is required to submit the registration forms even if they know they are not correct. They have to, it is the law.

As the organization asserted in a response to Senator McCain, "ACORN hired 13,000 field workers to register people to vote. In any endeavor of this size, some people will engage in inappropriate conduct. ACORN has a zero tolerance policy and terminated any field workers caught engaging in questionable activity. At the end of the day, as ACORN is paying these people to register voters, it is ACORN that is defrauded."

It is troubling the media jumped on this story like it was true. It is almost as if the media has nothing to go after the Democrats about, so when a trumped up charge is filed against them they run with it. These charges are the same charges that led to the firing of US attorneys that have Rove, Harriett Meyers, Alberto Gonzalez under threats of subpoena. The firings were a direct result that these Republican appointed attorneys would not file charges of voter fraud against democrats for virtually these same reasons. (In an interview with Talking Points Memo on Thursday, one of those fired attorneys, David Iglesias, reacted to reports that the FBI has launched an investigation of ACORN: "I'm astounded that this issue is being trotted out again. Based on what I saw in 2004 and 2006, it's a scare tactic.")

This is not a crisis in democracy, it is a fraud. The Brennan Center recently said getting struck by lightning happens more often than voter fraud in this country. What we really have to worry about is voter caging, a tactic used by the GOP and perfected in 2000 and 2004 in which voters are purged from the rolls. Two recent victories in Michigan and Ohio have the GOP scrambling as they should be. The Country is ready to dramatically change, if not in policy - at least in representation - and the Republicans are freaking as some corporate democrats no doubt are as well. Get out and vote.

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