ACORN Explained

If you’re thinking something smells fishy about all the conservative hoopla over ACORN’s voter registration efforts, you’re right.  How does voter registration fraud transform into voter fraud, you might ask.  Well basically, ACORN would need to be aware of every fraudulent form that’s been submitted, the names and polling places of those false identities, and they would then have to have a network of thousands of voters nationwide whom they could readily (yet covertly) communicate this information to, so that those voters would show up to cast their fraudulent vote on election day.  Given the possible prison time anyone who actually attempted to cast a fraudulent vote would face, it seems unlikely that they could find thousands upon thousands of voters to help in this effort in the first place, much less communicate the relevant information to them.  Thus far, no one has found any evidence that ACORN possesses any of these capabilities or any plans to execute such massive voter fraud.

There are also even more nuts and bolts facts that need to be understood to fully grasp how insane the furor that’s erupted over ACORN truly is:


ACORN flags and turns in three kinds of cards, those that it can verify, those that are incomplete, and those that it flags as problematic.
It turns those in labeled in a special way and are very conservative in terms of what it flags as problematic. It has stacks of
problematic cover sheets. […]

The Lake County Board knew about the questionable registrations today because ACORN flagged them for the board. For example, the Jimmy John’s card is one that a caller had flagged and labeled as problematic. ACORN can get that caller to talk to the press.

According to Regina Harris, the Director of Registrations for Lake County,  (Indiana) this claim checks out. “It’s certainly true. They did have three batches separated.” she told me this morning. “There was a pile they knew were good, there was some they said had missing info — like no voter ID number or a missing birthday — and another batch they called ‘suspicious.’ “

Why would ACORN submit registration forms it had deemed “suspicious”? Because under most state laws, voter registration organizations are required to turn in all the forms they receive. In a phone conversation today, ACORN press coordinator Charles Jackson confirmed that this is the case in Indiana.

So, there you have it.  ACORN is required in most states to turn in all the registration cards it receives, even those it believes to be fraudulent.  In response to this, ACORN makes the effort to separate out the cards in three categories, calling attention to those forms which are most problematic, a fact that is confirmed by an Indiana Director of Registrations.  So, unless conservatives are arguing that ACORN is both attempting to commit massive voter fraud, while also reporting this fraud to the proper authorities, then there’s really no case here.  Just typical election year bluster.  In fact, these cries of massive voter fraud are practically an annual tradition for the GOP, and perhaps no president more than Bush has made such aggressive efforts to find the wily and elusive fraudulent voter.  And just what have they found?  Not much:

Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter
fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of
any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court
records and interviews.

Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so
widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly,
cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged
and 86 convicted as of last year.

120 cases of voter fraud in a nation where more than 100 million voters turn out for presidential elections does not tip the scales, nor imply any voter fraud conspiracy.  In the meantime, those very same conservatives who are claiming to be horrified by ACORN’s non-existent corruption of the voting system are turning a blind eye to the very real problem of states illegally purging voters from the rolls.  While ACORN’s imagined crimes require a massive conspiracy beyond the simple delivery of bad voter registration cards, purging voters from the rolls prevents those eligible voters from exercising their rights — no massive conspiracy needed.

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