To the Wire

ACORN Community Organizing

New Orleans: At this point in the quadrennial electoral wars we are all searching tea leaves in some real earnest for any sign.  The polls are a mishmash of one or the other, if not knotted in a deadlocked tie. 

 The other night coming back to town I stopped by and talked to my folks for the classic “parental poll.”  Sparing all of the details of countless “discussions,” which is the polite way we refer to heated political arguments over decades now, it is safe, even if sad, to say that my dad particularly has been on the winning end of many more presidential contests than I have.  I asked my folks, vibrant and sassy souls now in their 80’s (can this be possible?!?) who they were liking in this race.  I’ll spare you, but suffice it to say – Bush is in big, big trouble on the parental poll!  Though I can’t remember if she’s really declared herself on this formally, my mother, the veteran English professor, has always considered Bush something close to a murderer just for what he has done to the language.  My dad seems to have now come to join her on the issue of Iraq.  He doesn’t like feeling that he has been lied to by the President.  He finds it unbelievable that we may have killed 100,000 civilians.  He is mystified that there are entire parts of the country controlled by insurgents more than a year after we supposedly “won” the war. 

 It’s crazy everywhere though.

 ACORN in partnership with Project Vote registered a couple of folks shy of 1.1 million new voters, almost all in battleground states far surpassing all of our previous records and virtually anything else done by anyone else in this election.  Registering lower income voters and pushing them to participate is something we have done for many, many years and many, many elections.  Normally, there is high consensus that it is a good thing and part of the foundation of any hope for a democratic system in our country.

 But that’s normally.  This year in the polarization of the presidential contest, our great success at voter registration has become part of the ground zero targeting by partisan forces, many of which are trying to repress the actual participation of new voters. 

 For weeks I have been getting “attack” emails on these topics.  I got a number of them from some wacko asking me “did they have to be an acorn member to register known terrorists?”  There are a million replies that immediately come to mind!  Luckily, better judgment instructs that one simply ignore, press delete, and get on with life and work.  But I finally figured out why I was getting these love notes by reading a column by Peter Roff distributed by the UPI nationally on 10/28/04 called “That’s Politics!”  Seems a conservative columnist and author named Michelle Malkin had claimed in her column that ACORN – “a left-wing” organization – had registered an accused terrorist, the illegal alien Nuradin Abdi, the suspected shopping mall bomb plotter from Somalia, in Columbus and she had attributed this wildness to a report published in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.   David Brock on his website Media Matters for America (MMA) belled the cow here by going to the source and finding that the Dispatch had never indicated that ACORN had done any such thing!  In fact as he reported, “…according to the Dispatch, Abdi appears to have registered to vote at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.”  All of it just plain poppycock, but of course now it is a story with a life of its own that we have found in a basket of papers around the country.

 Hey, ACORN registered 1.1 million people and the truth is that when someone is legally and eligible to vote, we have no idea what they have done in the past, nor what they will do in the future – including whether they will vote.  We’ve also had a lot of excitement on the wires once again in battleground states like Colorado, Florida, and Ohio about whether there were any registration errors.  It is possible there were.  We think though that our success rate will be better than 99.9% accuracy.  The problem is that could still leave some flubs on 1100 cards. 

 Of course we are sorry if there were any errors, but once we have apologized for that, we are not going to apologize for having gotten 1.1 Million folks registered and ready to vote, and we’re going to do our damnedest to make sure they actually get out and vote as well. 

 The fact that everything is down to the wire goes to the heart of alienation in our communities where too many times no one has felt their votes mattered.  This time we are proving once again that every vote does count.

 That’s what it’s all about in America.    Shame on any of the fire breathers out there on any side of the question who can not come to grips with that simple fact! 

 At the least I can promise that you will not find any apologies here for trying to make democracy work.

Florida ACORN Board Chair Tamecka Pierce at Orlando Early Vote Rally, with the ACORN Mobile Action Center. This season there were two ACORN Mobile Action Centers that hit the road to help register and get out the vote, one of which has been largely in Florida (above) and the other in Ohio. Look for them and give a wave and a holler!