Editorials Now

Community Organizing Ideas and Issues
Editorials Now
October 20, 2008
 New Orleans   The following are a sampling of the editorial points of view on the ACORN voter controversy:
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Oct. 19, 2008
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
JOHN L. SMITH: Exaggerated voter scandals from ACORNs grow

The partisans at Mr. D’s Bar and Grill, official Dallas Cowboys country on Rainbow Boulevard, must have been momentarily elated to hear that members of their favorite football team had moved to Las Vegas.
And let’s not forget those other outposts of Cowboys fandom, the Kopper Keg West, Pounders Sports Lounge, Rascals, the Road Runner, and the Whiskey Creek Saloon. Regulars must have been ecstatic to learn that NFL superstars such as Tony Romo and Terrell Owens had taken up residence in Southern Nevada.
 Not only that, but they’d even taken time to register to vote! Talk about All-American lads.
Alas, the truth surely deflated the spirits of Dallas diehards like the air from Charlie Brown’s football. As we now know, Romo and Owens and other Cowboys didn’t move here or register to vote. Their names were among the incomplete voter registration passes that floated from the offices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and were intercepted by Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax and Secretary of State Ross Miller.
The Cowboys’ names are among numerous registration oddities discovered during ACORN’s sweeping local voter registration drive that critics are calling voter fraud. More than throwing penalty flags, they’re tossing around elaborate conspiracy theories stretching from here to the desk of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. The cry of foul attracted the attention not only of Miller and Lomax, but the FBI as well.
Problem is, the supposed ACORN scandal here appears to be more shenanigans than scam. Not that the simple truth will be believed by those who are sure ACORN is locked in a conspiracy to defraud the American voting public and prevent it from electing a Republican. ACORN’s political action committee has endorsed the candidacy of Barack Obama.
It’s good to know the FBI is looking into ACORN’s operation. Perhaps its local agents can find the voter fraud because, frankly, I sure can’t.
There’s an important difference between crudely faked voter registrations, the kind filled in by canvassers who get paid by the name, and genuine voter fraud.
For an example of the difference, take the activity that took place at a local bar called the Clubhouse Tavern. Back in 2002, Clubhouse owner Gary Horrocks was an unsuccessful Assembly candidate and motorcycle association lobbyist who came up with a plan: He’d enlist the tavern’s regulars and friends of the motorcycle association to register to vote at the bar and use addresses he provided that just happened to be located inside Assembly District 37. Horrocks even had registrants request absentee ballots. He filled in the blanks and helped tilt the outcome of the Assembly race.
That’s voter fraud. There was a clear conspiracy to defraud the process, and that conspiracy was carried out.
Under oath before a grand jury, County Recorder Frances Deane quoted Horrocks bragging about his accomplishment: “I had their votes mailed to my bar and my P.O. box, and we filled them out, and that’s how I know we got you a hundred votes.”
Although Deane later had her own troubles with law enforcement, there were enough corroborating witnesses to convict Horrocks. Clark County District Attorney David Roger stepped up, and Horrocks was indicted on 62 charges.
It wasn’t until January 2008 that the case was resolved, with Horrocks accepting a single felony count. Horrocks and his wife, Pam, received probation.
What ACORN appears to have generated is mass voter registration incompetence. Of the estimated 90,000 “new voters” registered by the organization, Lomax said he believes up to half the registrations were fake or duplicated–and most of those weren’t caught by ACORN’s in-house “quality control” system.
The real story is reassuring. The problems were identified by the county registrar and secretary of state in advance of early voting.
“I think, if anything, what this proves is that the system works,” Miller said Friday.
Does anyone in authority have an indication that any of the corrupted registrations would be used fraudulently on Election Day?
“I think I can safely say we haven’t seen any evidence of that,” Miller said.
That doesn’t mean ACORN won’t have plenty of explaining to do.
Nor does it mean there isn’t fraud going on inside the organization.
But it does mean there’s no evidence yet of voter fraud rising from ACORN’s Nevada operation.
That’s bad news for Dallas Cowboys fans, but good news for Nevada voters.
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295.

Orlando Sentinel
Only Florida could bring together ACORN, Warren Buffett and Charlie Crist
Mike Thomas | COMMENTARY
October 19, 2008
There are too many things going on to write about just one of them. So here is a little about a lot . . .
More bad news for John McCain: There now are more Obama signs in Florida yards than For Sale signs.
And his former best pal, Charlie Crist, isn’t helping much. First Crist was a no-show at a big McCain rally. Now he is sabotaging the Republican Party’s rather silly war on ACORN. This is a group of former Deadheads who, in the absence of Jerry Garcia, have nothing else to do but register the downtrodden to vote for Democrats. Republicans allege they sign up “voters that do not exist” in key battleground states, including Florida.
ACORN supposedly has registered Mickey Mouse, which McCain claims is “destroying the fabric of democracy.”
But then out comes Crist saying there is no voter fraud here, which raises the question: How could any group plot to destroy the fabric of democracy and leave Florida out of it? We wrote the book on destroying the fabric of American democracy.
. . . And by the way, Mickey Mouse does, too, exist. And he just sent four mail-in votes for Obama.
Grumpy voted twice for McCain.
Belle is writing in Hillary.
. . . According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 20 of the 25 poorest members of Congress are Democrats. Do we really want to put these people in charge of the economy?
. . . Responding to Oliver Stone’s new movie W., Jeb Bush had this to say about the portrayal of his brother and father: “The Oedipal rivalry is high-grade, unadulterated hooey.” A translation is being forwarded to the Oval Office . . . Actor Jason Ritter plays Jeb in the movie, which requires he do little more than sit there and look smarter than Josh Brolin.
. . . Here is a scary thought: Charlie Crist negotiating a deal with Warren Buffett with your money. It actually did happen earlier this year. Crist agreed to pay Buffett $224 million in exchange for Buffett agreeing to lend him $4 billion at 6.5 percent interest if we got hit by a monster hurricane this year. It was a desperation deal that Crist pushed through the Florida Cabinet because he and the Legislature have so badly mismanaged the state’s insurance fund it can no longer pay off policies. It looks as though we won’t get clobbered, so Buffett will pocket our cash, walk away and wait for Charlie’s call next year.
. . . Speaking of Charlie, the Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change announced the state can reduce its greenhouse-gas emission 34 percent by the year 2025. That’s because there will be 34 percent fewer people in Florida by 2025.
. . . I predicted such disasters as the insurance crisis, the housing bubble, a crushing state recession and the Gators’ loss to Mississippi. Here is my latest doomsday call: Florida faces soaring energy costs and a crippling energy shortage by 2020 because of the decision to abandon clean-coal technology. Get yourself a generator and hand fan.
. . . More doomsday: For the week of Sept. 28 through Oct. 4, the hotel occupancy rate on the west Osceola tourism strip was less than 30 percent. Occupancy on I-Drive was off 24 percent from last year, with rates down 11 percent.
. . . Radical left-wing consumer columnist Greg Dawson gave me McCain and 50 electoral votes. So I took out a credit default swap with AIG to cover my losses. An Obama landslide could bring down the entire economy.
. . . How bad is the credit crisis? The last e-mail I got from a Nigerian oil minister said he would only transfer his US $30 million to my bank account if it was federally insured.
. . . At this point, I don’t think ACORN and Mickey Mouse combined could stuff enough ballot boxes to get Tom Feeney and Ric Killer re-elected. And that raises the question: Do defeated members of Congress get unemployment compensation? No. However, they are vested in the congressional retirement program, so you’ll be paying both of them for a long time, win or lose.
. . . Mikey likes: Obama over McCain by 49 electoral votes, Suzanne Kosmos over Feeney by lots and lots, Alan Grayson over Keller by 8 points, Warren Buffett over Charlie Crist by $224 million.

The Columbian — Washington
In Our View: Valid Voters Only
ACORN issue has a foothold in our state; felon-voters controversy erupts again
Friday, October 17 | 1:00 a.m.
All that rumbling you’ve heard in recent days about the acorn harvest in Washington? It has nothing to do with nuts. They’re harvesting registered voters, and you’ll need to capitalize ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).
On Thursday the FBI said it is investigating ACORN for possible voter registration fraud in several states. The night before, during the presidential debate, John McCain demanded to know more about Barack Obama’s ties to ACORN. McCain said the group is “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” (McCain neglected to mention that he was keynote speaker at an ACORN-sponsored rally in 2006 in Miami).
If the ACORN issue sounds familiar to residents of Washington, it’s because seven ACORN workers last year were charged with submitting falsified voter registrations in King County. And on Wednesday The Daily World newspaper of Aberdeen reported that Republican state party chairman Luke Esser is seeking records from elections officials statewide to determine “if there’s any funny business going on.”
Locally, Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said there’s no indication that ACORN has initiated voter registration drives here, “and there are several safeguards in effect that help us in our efforts to prevent voter-registration fraud.”
That’s good to hear, because as you might have read in The Columbian on Oct. 8, Clark County posted the state’s fifth-highest number of new voter registrations this year, through Oct. 3. By now, Kimsey suspects that number is closer to 20,000, and it likely will climb higher through Monday’s deadline. (Here are the rules: You may register to vote in time for the Nov. 4 election if you are not registered anywhere else in the state; were living in the county on Oct. 4; will be at least 18 by Nov. 4; are a U.S. citizen and have not lost your voting rights due to a felony conviction or court action. You must register in person at the elections office, 1408 Franklin Street, Vancouver).
Among the safeguards, Kimsey said, is a connection to state records that match a voter registration with one of two numbers required to register: a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number. Also, when you vote, your signature is matched with the signature on the voter registration.
But the strongest safeguard is the act of voting itself, which requires signing an oath. Not only is lying on that oath a felony, but it will contain your signature, which, in effect, is a signed confession, making the crime about as easy to prosecute as you can imagine.
Meanwhile, another can of worms opened on Thursday with news that, according to KIRO-TV in Seattle, about 24,000 convicted felons were mailed ballots, and it’s uncertain how many are eligible to vote. For each felon, that requires settlement of all court records. Secretary of State Sam Reed says his office is trying hard to ascertain the validity of those registered voters, but the difficulty of accessing other databases keeps his office from knowing precisely which felons, even after release from incarceration, have been ruled eligible by the courts. He said that effort is a “work in progress” and will require reform legislation.
We have editorialized that all felons after being released from incarceration should be allowed to vote. It’s a great way to help them rejoin society. But state law says differently, that courts must formally restore that right. Even if we disagree with the law, it should be followed until changed. Reed and his office will be hard-pressed to resolve this dilemma. That’s unfortunate, because so much progress has been made in elections reform in recent years.
Stay tuned. We’ve got another close gubernatorial race, and we’ve got an elections system that, though vastly improved, remains imperfect.

The Star Democrat — Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
Voter fraud and ACORN
Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008 5:23 AM CDT
Emerging stories about voter registration fraud in several presidential battleground states are disturbing. …
The leap, however, from such shenanigans to actual voter fraud on Election Day is a long one. And the further leap to implicate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in trying to “steal the election” through such fraud is clearly a jump too far.
Chicago Sun-Times
GOP hits Obama on Ayers, ACORN and … Alinsky?
McCain strategy is to raise doubts about ties, but activist died when nominee was 10
October 19, 2008
BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Columnist
WASHINGTON — Saul Alinsky surfaced as a factor in the presidential contest last year, in stories about how the legendary Chicago community organizer — who worked in the Back of the Yards and Woodlawn — directly influenced Hillary Rodham Clinton and indirectly touched Barack Obama, then Democratic primary rivals.
Now Alinsky is back in the closing days of the Obama-McCain contest, being demonized by McCain surrogates as if he were still alive.
Now Alinsky is back in the closing days of the Obama-McCain contest, being demonized by McCain surrogates as if he were still alive.
The McCain-Palin ticket is invoking Alinsky,  Bill Ayers, the former terrorist now Chicago professor, and ACORN, the community group created in the Alinsky tradition (under investigation for botched voter registration drives) as they argue Obama has “socialist” views.
Saul Alinsky, who died in 1972, influenced generations of community and labor organizers.
(Sun-Times library)
The Republican National Committee is paying for robo-calls targeting millions of voters in 10 key battleground states with this inflammatory message about Ayers:
“Hello, I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers whose organizations bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home, and killed Americans. . . .”
While RNC spokesman Danny Diaz told me the calls — in the millions, he said — have been going out for “quite some time,” they have been getting more attention in the last few days because “we have increased the volume over the last week or so.”
It’s all part of a McCain strategy to raise questions about Obama’s associations, and therefore his judgment. Obama worked with Ayers on civic boards in Chicago starting in the 1990s — years after Ayers was a part of the violent anti-Vietnam war Weather Underground.
Now Alinsky’s name is being dragged in the mix. During an interview Friday on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show, Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) said, “Obama started out with Saul Alinsky.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told Chris Matthews on “Hardball” that  Alinsky was “one of his teachers, you might say.”
Someone needs to rewrite their talking points. Alinsky, born in Chicago on Jan. 30, 1909, died June 12, 1972 in Carmel, Calif. — when Obama was 10.
Alinsky’s techniques and teachings influenced generations of community and labor organizers, including the church-based group hiring a young Obama to work on Chicago’s South Side in the 1980s.
Alinsky — whose Reveille for Radicals was the training manual for organizers — impressed a young Clinton, who was growing up in Park Ridge at the time Alinsky was the director of the Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago. At Wellesley, Clinton wrote her senior thesis on the “Alinsky Model” of organizing.
Alinsky’s son David, backed Clinton in the primary. He told me Saturday, “It is amazing to me that even so long after his death that the Republicans still think that he is such a threat, that his ideas are so anathema to them, that God forbid that the people should have the  power to say what they want or how they feel about something. I mean that seems to be very scary to them.”
Alinsky’s techniques were more tactical than ideological. Obama is winning in part because he created effective, penetrating organizing operations in red states like Virginia, expanding his electoral map. The Obama office I visited Saturday in McLean, Va. was humming.
Republicans need a strong ground game to counter Obama’s “movement.” They should be studying — not smearing — Alinsky.

New America Media
ACORN Won’t Be Swiftboat 2008, But…
New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Posted: Oct 17, 2008 
Editor’s Note: The GOP thinks voter registration problems with ACORN might be its trump card in derailing the Obama campaign. The charges are nothing new but they could cast a shadow in close races, writes NAM contributing editor Earl Ofari Hutchinson. His new book is “The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House” (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).
The dredging up of the alleged ACORN voter registration fraud charge hardly rises to the level of the much talked about and much dreaded October surprise that GOP 527 committees supposedly are getting ready to drop in a last effort to derail Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama. The problem is that the attack against the group for supposedly cooking the voter registration books to get tens of thousands of fake voters on the rolls to elect Democrats is old news.
In 2006, a GOP-leaning pro-business outfit, the Employment Policies Institute, churned out a report that purportedly documented a long trail of ACORN abuses from embezzlement, shaking down foundations and federal agencies, and, of course, abusing its non-profit, non-partisan charter to pad the Democratic Party voter rolls. Since then like clockwork, GOP officials and politicians have trotted out the scare of an ACORN voter hijack plot.
The one kernel of truth in the GOP attacks is that ACORN is an unabashedly grassroots activist group. And while there is no proof that ACORN systematically steered newly registered voters to the Democrats, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of those that it targets in its registration and political education drives are low income and minority. It is not rocket science to figure that most will vote Democratic. And even if as apparently was the case in the Nevada raid, a few overzealous ACORN workers deliberately bent the election rules, this does not add up to wholesale legal fraud. Yet, it’s still worth a good, loud squawk, and that’s of course what the GOP is doing. But because it squawked about the group, and has continued to squawk about it for many months, it lessens the odds that the group will be the Swiftboat 2008.
The ACORN flap, though, does raise a real fear that GOP state committees and the Republican National Committee, with the Justice Department in tow, will use the ACORN ploy to challenge the voter registration cards of thousands of voters in the must-win state of Nevada, as well as several other swing states. In fact, GOP officials didn’t wait for Nov. 4 to start in on the ACORN registered voters. They have made formal challenges to dozens of newly ACORN registered voters in Ohio, Michigan Pennsylvania, and even Montana. So far the challenges have been scattershot, and hit and miss.
But if the final vote on Nov. 4 is close in one or more of the key states where ACORN worked, the GOP will demand that state registrars dump the alleged fraudulent votes, and if that doesn’t work they’ll clog the courts with a blizzard of vote fraud lawsuits. The nightmarish spectacle of an endless round of haggling, finger pointing, charges and counter charges between Republicans and Democrats over the final vote could cast a cloud over an Obama win, and that would delight some within the GOP.
The irony is that any Republican strategy to taint an Obama win would be helped along by Obama. That’s part two of the cast-an-Obama-win-in-doubt strategy. McCain tipped this in the final debate when he chided Obama for allegedly approving more than $800,000 to ACORN to help with its voter registration drive. It’s a stretch to say that Obama’s campaign gave the money to the group purely with the noble goal in mind of educating and registering more voters–sans party affiliation. Yet, despite the obvious political motive, there was nothing illegal or fraudulent about the support it gave ACORN.
The GOP has certainly doled out millions to allegedly non-partisan groups that are anything but non-partisan to register more GOP voters. But tie the ACORN-Obama campaign money into the one-shot legal work that Obama did for the organization in a court challenge voter case more than decade ago, as well as a widely circulating YouTube video showing Obama promising an ACORN pep rally last year that they would be welcomed to advise and consult on community issues in his administration and you have all the makings of a grand Obama election theft conspiracy from the GOP.
The Republican National Committee certainly wasted no time in jumping on that theme with its recent online ad charging an Obama-orchestrated national vote fraud grab in the making. There will be more ads and charges like this to come. ACORN’s efforts to register, educate and empower millions of rural and inner-city forgotten, ignored and disenfranchised adults is indeed noble. And the missteps of a few in the group and the railing of the GOP against them do not detract from its accomplishment. Unfortunately, that accomplishment is now the new GOP trump card against Obama.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Cynthia Tucker
By Cynthia Tucker  — Sat Oct 18, 7:58 pm ET
Cynthia Tucker is editorial page editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a syndicated columnist whose commentary appears in dozens of newspapers across the country.
If Mickey Mouse shows up at the polls in a couple of weeks, John McCain might have cause for the alarm he showed over alleged voter fraud during Wednesday’s debate. If Minnie and Goofy also turn up with state-sponsored photo ID, then the Justice Department and the FBI will need to turn their attention away from terrorism, bank robberies and billion-dollar financial scams to investigate fake voters.
But it’s quite unlikely that Mickey or Minnie or Goofy will be among the voters lined up on Nov. 4. So McCain’s hysterical outburst over a group of activists–ACORN, he said, “may be destroying the fabric of democracy”–needs to be understood for what it is: a distraction. The Republican nominee is once again using fear as a tactic to try to win votes.
In the waning days of the presidential campaign, Republicans have made ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, their bete noire. Known for its activism on behalf of the poor, ACORN has long been an object of Republican disdain.
During this election season, ACORN has conducted a registration campaign, hiring workers to sign up new voters. Some workers have decided to fake it, filling in names such as “Mickey Mouse” instead of those of eligible voters. (According to ACORN’s leaders, they discovered the fake names and notified authorities. They’ve also fired workers caught engaged in illegal activities.)
Still, the fake registrations have driven Republicans around the bend. They’ve been exaggerating voter fraud for decades, and the prospect of losing the Oval Office and congressional seats has them scurrying for excuses. If Democrats win big in this cycle, look for more GOP nuttiness about ACORN and voter fraud.
Fake voters are a myth, a convenient cover for those who really don’t believe in the universal franchise. (ACORN has been accused of fraudulent registrations; for actual voter fraud to occur, persons with those fake names would have to show up to cast ballots.) There is no evidence of people coming to the polls using false names and fraudulent IDs.
Ever since the civil rights movement inspired large numbers of black and brown Americans to exercise their right to vote, Republicans have been engaged in efforts to keep them away from the ballot box. Way back in the 1960s, Arizona Republican William Rehnquist–then a GOP activist, later the chief justice of the United States–was accused of intimidating Latinos to try to keep them away from the polls. Many Republicans fought the “motor voter” laws, passed during the ’90s, that allowed state driver’s license bureaus to also register voters. Ease of access encourages less-affluent Americans to vote, and Republicans fear that too many Democratic-leaning voters are in that demographic group.
The GOP might have chosen to appeal to the interests of black and brown voters to lure them into its coalition. Instead, Republican strategists such as the late Lee Atwater perfected the so-called Southern strategy, using racially charged innuendo to appeal to white voters resentful of the civil rights movement. That has kept black voters alienated from the Republican Party. George W. Bush tried to appeal to Latinos with an enlightened push for broad immigration reform, but the narrow-minded Republican base revolted against the measure. That left Latino voters disaffected. With America growing browner, the base of the Republican Party will continue to dwindle.
As the GOP panics over its shrinking base, the smooth cover it has used to justify voter suppression has begun to crumble, revealing its ugly tactics for all to see. Just last week, Georgia Republican Eric Johnson, a state legislator, threatened to end early voting, calling it a “mistake.”
Georgia Republicans used to champion early voting because it was convenient for well-educated voters, especially in the GOP-leaning suburbs. But this year, black Georgians have accounted for nearly 40 percent of the early votes, a sign of the excitement over Barack Obama’s historic candidacy. Now, Johnson sees early voting as “a 30-day period of time when, if your goal is to undermine democracy, you’ve got 30 days to do it instead of one.”
Don’t be fooled. Neither McCain nor Johnson is concerned about democracy. They’re worried about Democrats.
Bill Moyers Journal
A Mighty Hoax from ACORN Grows
(Photo by Robin Holland)
Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.
A Mighty Hoax from ACORN Grows
By Michael Winship
ACORN and election fraud. Hang on. As soon as I can get the alligator that crawled out of my toilet back into the New York City sewers where it belongs, I can turn my attention to this very important topic.
You see, the ACORN “election fraud” story is one of those urban legends, like fake moon landings and alligators in the sewers, and it appears three or four weeks before every recent national election with the regularity of the swallows returning to Capistrano. First, the basics: ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is an activist group working with low and moderate income families that, among many other things, registers voters. 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 where the Republican meme kicks in. As they have in past elections (although now louder and more angrily than ever), the GOP has made ACORN the red flag du jour as the party tries to mobilize its conservative base and, allegedly, attempts to suppress the vote and distract attention from accusations of election tampering made against them, too.
The charge is that these fake registrations will create havoc at the polls. On Tuesday morning, former Republican Senators John Danforth and Warren Rudman, chairs of Senator McCain’s Honest and Open Elections Committee, held a press conference and described the results of the bad seeds in ACORN’s registration program as “a potential nightmare.” Danforth said he was concerned “that this election night and the days that follow will be a rerun of 2000, and even worse than 2000.”
John McCain raised it at Wednesday night’s final debate and went further, adding, “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…”
Obama replied, “ACORN is a community organization. Apparently, what they have done is they were paying people to go out and register folks. And apparently, some of the people who were out there didn’t really register people; they just filled out a bunch of names. Had nothing to do with us. We were not involved.”
Which is not to say Obama has not been associated with ACORN in the recent past. He has. As he said in the debate, as a lawyer, he joined with the group in partnership with the US Justice Department to implement a motor voter registration law in Illinois — allowing folks to register to vote at their local DMV. His work as a community organizer bought him into contact with ACORN, the organization received money from the Woods Fund while he was a board member there and his presidential campaign gave ACORN more than $800,000 to help with get out the vote campaigns during the primary season — but not, apparently, for registration drives.
All of this distracts from several important points. ACORN has registered 1.3 million voters, and maintains that in virtually every instance they are the ones who have reported the incidents of fraud.
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.”
Arrests have been made, as well they should be.
Add to this the simple fact that registration fraud is not election fraud. Seventy-five made-up people who are registered as, say, “Brad Pitt,” are not likely going to show up at some polling place on November 4 to vote in the election. Because they don’t exist. (Besides, Angelina would never give them time off from babysitting duties.)
Granted, there are ways to mail in an absentee ballot under a fake name and, too, from time to time some joker is going to come to the polls and try to bluff his or her way in. But despite the charge that thousands and thousands of fakes will flood the machines and throw the count, it does not happen very often. And according to ACORN, “Even RNC [Republican National Committee] General Counsel Sean Cairncross has recently acknowledged he is not aware of a single improper vote cast as a result of bad cards submitted in the course of an organized voter registration effort.”
Not that this has stopped the GOP from banging the same drum every national election. And amnesiac members of the media and some government agencies from buying into it every time. Last year, THE NEW YORK TIMES reported that the federal Election Assistance Commission, created by the Help America Vote Act, legislation enacted after the Florida debacle, was told by a pair of experts — one Republican, the other described as having “liberal leanings”–that there was not that much fraud to be found. But their conclusions were downplayed.
As per the TIMES, “Though the original report said that among experts ‘there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud,’ the final version of the report released to the public concluded in its executive summary that ‘there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.'”
Which raises the ongoing investigation of the Justice Department’s firing of those eight US attorneys shortly after President Bush’s re-election. It shouldn’t be forgotten that despite official explanations, half of them were let go after refusing to prosecute vote fraud charges demanded by Republicans. The attorneys had determined there was little or no evidence of skullduggery; certainly not enough to prosecute.
(In an interview with Talking Points Memo on Thursday, one of those fired, 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.”)
What’s equally if not more scary are continued allegations of Republican attempts at “caging” minority voters — making challenge lists of African- And Hispanic-Americans registered in heavily Democratic districts. Just this week, a Federal judge in Michigan ruled that voters could not be purged from the rolls in that state simply because their mailing address was invalid — this followed a failed attempt by a Michigan Republican county chairman to use a list of foreclosed homes as the basis of voter challenges.
This comes on the heels of a recent report from the Brennan Center at New York University documenting how state officials–often with the best of intentions–purge huge numbers of perfectly legal voters from the rolls.
As my colleague Bill Moyers reported, “Hundreds of thousands of legal voters may have been dumped in recent years, many without ever being notified.” The report describes a “process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation.”
Hardly reassuring words if you want democracy to work, and sadly, not an urban legend, but the simple truth.

We’re Heading Left Once Again
The test for the next president is whether he can use the powers of government to act on behalf of Americans. That’s a liberal idea. 
By Jonathan Alter | NEWSWEEK
Published Oct 18, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Oct 27, 2008
John McCain’s “Joe the Plumber” would no doubt like to have a beer with Sarah Palin’s “Joe Six-Pack.” In truth, Joe Wurzelbacher isn’t a licensed plumber and Joe Six-Pack is a horrible cliche, but no matter. They’re cultural kin to the iconic “Average Joe” who was part of Richard Nixon’s “Silent Majority” in the early 1970s and Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the 1980s. But conservative majorities come and go. If the polls are to be believed, today’s hard-strapped Joes have more in common politically with Joe Biden. And millions of them are preparing to do something that they never thought they’d do in a million years–vote for a black guy with the middle name Hussein for president of the United States.
Even if Joe stays Republican, Barack Obama will still likely win. That’s because he has built a huge base of non-Joes–better-educated, younger whites, as well as women and minorities. These voters are the future of the electorate and they’re progressive. If they turn out in the numbers expected, they could restructure American politics for a generation.
For all the statistical permutations, analyzing the makeup of the American electorate for the past half-century is fairly simple. About 40 percent of voters are reliable Democrats (whether they call themselves liberals or not), 40 percent are conservative Republicans (a term starting to lose its coherence), and the shape of our politics is determined by the 20 percent in the middle, mostly independents.
Since about 1980, we’ve been living in a center-right America, but we’re center-center now, and likely headed left. Even if McCain pulls an upset, the Democratic Congress would nudge him leftward on issues like alternative energy and taxes (and his health-care plan would be DOA). Should Obama win, he will press hard for his ambitious agenda, even, aides say, at the risk of being a one-term president. Then it would all be about execution.
If Obama moves “smart left” next year, he will have succeeded in rewriting the American social contract–the obligations of the government to the people on the economy, energy, health care and education. But if we see a revival of the dumb left with old-fashioned capitulation to interest groups and a series of rookie mistakes on foreign policy, even a big Democratic victory next month would be a speed bump on the Ronald Reagan highway.
Most voters are neither Limbaugh dittoheads nor ACORN activists. They’re pragmatic centrists who decided they liked Obama when he reminded them more of Will Smith than Jesse Jackson. They liked that he tried to calm their fears rather than express their anger. But this election is about something deeper than temperament. When people are scared, whether it’s after 9/11 or heading into a recession, they turn to government for protection. Cultural issues like gay marriage and resentment of elites fade. Even though voters don’t trust Washington any more than Wall Street, it’s their only option.
The question for the new president then becomes not whether he’s moving too fast but too slow. The test becomes whether he can use the powers of government to act on behalf of the American people. That is a fundamentally liberal idea.
Enterprise News — Brockton, Massachusetts
OPINION: Two sides complain about ‘voter fraud’
The Enterprise
Posted Oct 17, 2008 @ 05:32 AM
As the election gets closer, both parties are accusing the other of cheating.
This shouldn’t be surprising. Close elections encourage partisans to push the envelope, and the last two presidential elections have been especially close and hard-fought, particularly in swing states like Florida, Ohio and New Mexico.
But the parties historically push the envelope in different ways. Democrats try to register everything that moves, especially in poor neighborhoods. Republicans look for ways to stop people from voting, especially in Democratic neighborhoods. Republicans scream about voter fraud, while Democrats protest vote suppression.
Republicans are pointing a finger at ACORN, a left-leaning organization, virtually unknown six weeks ago, that is suddenly being painted as a grave threat to the republic. Its community organizers — a profession ridiculed at the Republican Convention — helped poor people get mortgages, so ACORN is being blamed for the subprime meltdown.
Now ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — is registering thousands of new voters, with some funding from the Obama campaign. Because some of the registration forms have proved fraudulent — ACORN admits that, despite its screening procedures, some of its hundreds of paid registration gatherers probably fill out forms on their own — Republicans are screaming foul.
State officials in Nevada — considered a toss-up state — raided an ACORN office last week, seizing their computers. The investigation may require they keep the computers through Election Day, they said, an action ACORN said will cripple its get-out-the-vote operation.
Democrats, meanwhile, have been complaining since the Florida debacle of 2000 that partisan election officials are scrubbing qualified voters off the rolls, purchasing problematic electronic voting machines and engaging in all manner of voter suppression in poor and minority precincts.
The guess here is that both sides are overstating their cases. Beyond the partisan sniping, there is little evidence that enough people are voting illegally — or being illegally prevented from voting — to change the outcome of an election. The best mechanism to keep that from happening may be the system we have now, where the strongest partisans on both sides keep a wary eye on everything their opponents are doing.
Crookston Daily Times — Crookston, Minnesota

Vote fraud, voter fraud to two different things
By Bob Koehler
Published: Friday, October 17, 2008 12:20 PM CDT

Here’s the difference between vote fraud, which is real, and voter fraud, which, though almost nonexistent, has instantly gripped the popular imagination:
The former is a complex, internal problem of democracy, the acknowledgment of which requires us to face our national contradictions and inner demons, and, applying informed intelligence, demand changes in our system so it restrains our worst impulses and truly serves our ideals; the latter is a simple, mythical problem, a variation of the familiar “us vs. them” scenario that allows “us” to feel righteously threatened and strike at “them” (and their allies) with passion and force.
The two issues–one real and deeply troubling, the other false yet familiar and compelling–define, with what I would call barbed irony, our national juncture, which is headed toward a profound resolution on Election Day, less than three weeks hence.
Will we continue on as the United States of George Bush, arrogant, reckless and scared of our shadow? This is increasingly the tenor of the desperate, fact-challenged McCain-Palin campaign, which is going all out to stoke its base into a frenzy of us vs. the terrorists, us vs. the Muslims, us vs. the elitists, us vs. the ’60s radicals . . . us vs. “them” (shhhh, you know who I mean, Michelle’s his baby mama).
What it comes down to is us vs. anybody. This is the language of war. It’s the only language spoken by McCain, the hijacked Republican Party and the media blather-machine that serves them.
So consider the sudden enemy status accorded the national community organization ACORN, which has helped some 1.3 million people–low-income, young and minority–register to vote this year. For its trouble, the organization was raided by police in Las Vegas and seriously challenged in Missouri, Ohio and elsewhere by the very officials who ought to be thanking them for expanding the reach of democracy.

At issue were a small number of duplicate or improperly filled out registration forms, inevitable in any operation on such a large scale, which the organization flagged when it submitted the forms to state boards of election.
“In nearly every case that has been reported, it was ACORN that discovered the bad forms, and called them to the attention of election authorities,” the organization notes in a press release. Furthermore: “There has never been a single reported instance in which bogus registration forms have led to anyone voting improperly,” the organization points out. “To do that, they would have to show up at the polls, prove their identity as all first-time registrants must, and risk jail.”
Could a “national threat” possibly be less plausible? Yet vilifying ACORN and other voter registration groups that seek to enfranchise and empower the socially marginalized serves several purposes. (Vilifying them again, I should say; the “attorney-gate” scandal that led to Alberto Gonzales’ disgraced departure from the Justice Department a year ago was about the firing of U.S. attorneys who refused to prosecute such organizations on trumped up voter-fraud charges in 2004 and 2006.)

Doing so not only stokes the Republican base the same way calling Barack Obama a terrorist does, setting real Americans against the riffraff who would try to breach our electoral process the same way they’re sneaking across our borders; it also creates a “false equivalence,” as Kenneth Anderson put it, with the vote fraud and suppression tactics the GOP is in fact using–by purging voter rolls and many other means–to keep as many Democrats as possible from voting this year, and at the same time serves the cause of vote suppression by creating a voting climate of chaos and duress.
“The strategy,” writes Anderson for OpEd News, “is set: purge voters, sow confusion, and stomp up and down about ‘voter fraud’ emanating from a grassroots community organization most Americans have never heard of.”
He adds: “In the event that GOP election rigging, voter disenfranchisement and the expected waves of confusion, failing machines and voter challenges at the polls on election night fail to deliver John McCain a win in November, ‘voter fraud’ will be the first thing to ring out from Republicans across the country.”

Thus as we head toward a historic showdown on Nov. 4, let us do so with our eyes wide open. The vote totals announced that night on the tube will only be part of the story and, almost certainly, only a partial reflection of the national will. How many legitimate voters will be denied the right to vote? How many will be discouraged by long lines caused by equipment breakdown or a deliberately insufficient number of machines in their precinct? Will all the votes be recorded and counted correctly?
Wanting every eligible voter to cast a vote and have it counted is not a partisan position, yet in a nation that is at war with itself it becomes one.
Tribune Media Services, Inc.