Good, Bad, and Ugly on ACORN

ACORN Ideas and Issues
Good, Bad, and Ugly on ACORNOctober 21, 2008
New Orleans  A selection of big hits in the current moment:

10 ways we beat Tampa

Chuck Darrow

Philadelphia Daily News

Released : Tuesday, October 21, 2008 4:00 AM

Oct. 21–Yeah, yeah . . . we know: When it comes to championship throwdowns, Tampa Bay teams have a habit of treating our guys like an ACORN voter-registration volunteer at a Sarah Palin rally.
The wounds are still raw: In the 2002 NFC Championship Game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers grounded the Eagles’ flight to Super Bowl XXXVII. And in 2004 the Tampa Bay Lightning kept the Flyers from a shot at bringing back Lord Stanley’s cup for the first time since Gerald Ford was tripping his way around the West Wing.

WBNS – Channel 10 — Central Ohio

Man Dressed As Squirrel Disrupts Democrats

Monday,  October 20, 2008 1:30 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A man who was dressed in a squirrel costume was escorted from the Ohio Statehouse steps on Monday morning while Gov. Ted Strickland, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Mayor Michael Coleman were discussing negative campaigning by Republicans.
The squirrel held up a sign that said, “Don’t Let Obama + ACORN Steal Ohio.”
Strickland, Brown and Coleman stood on the Statehouse steps to call for an end to what they called “lying, deceitful ads” by Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, 10TV’s Patrick Bell reported.
McCain’s campaign accuses ACORN, a community activist group that operates nationwide, of perpetrating “massive voter fraud,” claiming Sen. Barack Obama has “long and deep” ties to the group.
“I say to Sen. McCain and those backing him in the way they do things to stop squirreling around and start being straight with voters,” Coleman said.  “We ought to be tired of the ridiculousness we’re seeing here.”
Ohio Democratic officials have admitted that up to a third of the 600,000 new voter registrations made this year have some kind of discrepancy.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a bid by Republicans to force Ohio to verify suspicious registration before the Nov. 4 election.
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, has said the discrepancies most likely stem from innocent clerical errors rather than fraud but has set up a verification plan.
“This unanimous ruling by the United States Supreme Court allows Ohio to move about the business of ensuring a free, fair, open and honest election without the threat of widespread voter suppression by the GOP,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said in a statement.
Stay with 10TV News and for continuing Campaign 2008 coverage.

Waltham Daily News Tribune — Editorial

Editorial: Mickey’s vote


GateHouse News Service

Posted Oct 20, 2008 @ 10:11 AM

Anyone who thinks the handful of people who are still undecided after nearly two years of presidential campaigning will be swayed by the introduction of a new villain named ACORN is, well, nuts.
But Republicans and conservatives are on the offensive nonetheless, breathlessly bemoaning the activities of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Because of ACORN’s advocacy for affordable housing, it is being blamed for the subprime mortgage meltdown. Because the group has for years been involved in voter registration efforts – especially in poor and minority communities – it is being accused of trying to steal the election.
GOP presidential nominee John McCain took this hysteria to new heights in the final campaign debate last week, declaring that ACORN “may be destroying the fabric of democracy.”
Clearly, there’s politics on both sides. ACORN, while officially nonpartisan, leans left; its critics swing from the right. There are investigations of the voter registration charges ongoing in at least 13 states – some of them likely motivated by politics – and we should not pre-judge their results.
But since the investigations are unlikely to be resolved before Election Day, let us at least clear the rhetorical air. We can start by differentiating between voter registration fraud and voter fraud.
Voter registration fraud is committed when someone fills out a registration form in the name of a fictitious person. In several states, people who earned hourly wages from ACORN for registering new voters have been caught filling out forms in the name of Mickey Mouse or the Dallas Cowboys. Many of these violations were reported by ACORN itself, having caught the fraudulent forms through its own screening process. Some were caught by official registrars, whose job it is to stop this kind of mischief.
Voter fraud is more serious. It is when someone attempts to cast a ballot under a fictitious name, presumably to influence an election. This is rare, with proven cases in recent elections numbering in the dozens, not hundreds or thousands.
Voter registration fraud is wrong but mostly harmless. Mickey Mouse will not try to cast a vote Nov. 4, and the Dallas Cowboys won’t be voting more than once. The fact that those funny forms may be sitting unused in a pile in some election clerk’s office is regrettable. But it is not, in sense, destroying “the fabric of democracy.”


$5,000 Reward for Information About ACORN Break-ins

Written by Editor

Monday, 20 October 2008

Velvet Revolution, an organization dedicated to fair elections, is offering $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for break-ins at the ACORN offices in Dorchester, MA and Burien, WA.
The timing of the break-ins coincide with the Republican attacks on the organization. The Washington break-in occurred on Tuesday and the Boston break-in occurred in the evening after Senator McCain made accusations against ACORN in the final Presidential debate, where he said the group was “destroying the fabric of democracy”. In recent days the organization has been the target of threatening calls and e-mails, including at least one death threat. “Voter suppression is their goal but we will not allow the actions of political hacks and zealots to intimidate us or keep us from exercising our most fundamental right – the right to vote” – Mimi Ramos, Head Organizer, Massachusetts ACORN.
In Dorchester five computers were stolen from the ACORN office and the phone system and internet network were ripped out. Computer records were also stolen from ACORN Housing which does foreclosure prevention counseling. If you have any information regarding break-ins or want to make a donation the number to call is (617) 436-7100.

Source: ACORN

Gainesville Sun — Commentary

Group promotes democracy ‘one pint at a time’

By Cindy Swirko

Staff writers
Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008 at 10:28 p.m.

Last Modified: Sunday, October 19, 2008 at 10:30 p.m.

Some people think of politics as a sport, so perhaps it shouldn’t seem unusual that on Wednesday night a television at Gators Dockside was airing the presidential debate to the usual cheering, jeering and drinking that occurs at a sports bar.
The Gainesville chapter of Drinking Liberally has hosted debate-watching parties at Gators Dockside rather than in homes this fall. Drinking Liberally is a nationwide politically-oriented social organization. For the record, the name refers to political inclinations rather than drinking proclivities — but debate party co-host Donna Tuckey said anyone, regardless of their politics, can join in.
“We are a group that is trying to promote democracy one pint at a time,” said Tuckey, who went to the vice presidential debate party dressed as Sarah Palin. “We’re loud and proud. We clap for our supported candidates. Everyone is welcome. We have room for everyone and love viewpoints that are different so we have a chance to argue.”
Among those attending last week was Jon Reiskind, head of the Alachua County Democratic Party. He said the party was a blast.
“We played political bingo. You have a bingo card with various political phrases … and as you hear either of the candidates say it, you mark it,” Reiskind said. “I won with ‘reform,’ ‘climate change,’ ‘ACORN’ and ‘foreign oil.’ ”
Drinking Liberally meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Brophy’s Irish Pub, 60 SW 2nd St.
From Maine Campus — Orono
When asked what her father had to do to win the election, Meghan McCain referred to the final presidential debate on Oct. 15.
“I think, you know, sort of what we saw in the last debate is really the direction I like this is going; I mean, you know, Obama has some things he really needs to answer, and I don’t think even I completely understand this ACORN connection and the Bill Ayers connection. I think if there’s a reasonable answer, then fantastic, there’s a reasonable answer, but you know, there could also be other answers,” Meghan McCain said.
Meghan McCain said she was very excited when her father chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.

ABC News Poll

More Challenges for McCain, From Ayers to the Palin Pick

Obama Leads on Optimism and Temperament in Final Weeks


Oct. 20, 2008

There’s less of a split, though, on the Obama campaign’s association with the community group ACORN; 49 percent say it’s not a legitimate issue, 40 percent say it is, with more, 11 percent, unready to express an opinion on the subject. McCain’s accused ACORN of voter registration fraud; the group blames some of its canvassers for filling out faked forms, and says it itself has notified the authorities of such cases.
Los Angeles Times Editorial
McCain’s old voter-fraud saw
His attack on ACORN undercuts real efforts to improve the system.

October 20, 2008

John McCain committed a malicious misrepresentation in the last presidential debate when he claimed that ACORN, the liberal activist group, “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.”

As ACORN acknowledges, it has collected voter registration forms with bogus signatures. But even when they aren’t winnowed out by election officials, transparently invalid registrations don’t lead to fraudulent voting. Even the most lax poll worker wouldn’t allow “Mickey Mouse” or “John Q. Public” to cast a ballot.
There’s a case to be made for cracking down on errors and, yes, fraud in election procedures, and the FBI reportedly is conducting a preliminary investigation of whether ACORN, the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, encouraged its canvassers to falsify signatures. But wild claims like McCain’s undermine reform efforts and make it harder to hold ACORN accountable for its real faults, including providing a financial incentive for canvassers to fake signatures. (A commission chaired by former President Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III recommended in 2005 that states engage in special scrutiny of registration forms turned in by third-party organizations that pay their canvassers.)

Swamping election agencies with obviously phony registrations distracts officials from the serious business of verifying other registrations, as contemplated by the Help America Vote Act approved by Congress in 2002. That law, which figured in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week, requires states to establish a “centralized, interactive, computerized statewide voter registration list” that “shall be coordinated with other agency databases within the state.”

To its credit, California tries to match registrations with both driver’s license records and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. If there is a mismatch, county election officials contact the potential voter to verify his or her status. The problem isn’t obvious examples of fraud, such as a “Mickey Mouse” signature, but the possibility that a real person is registering multiple times or seeking to vote where he no longer lives.
The debate about election fraud is complicated by the fact that the political parties have different priorities. Democrats emphasize increasing the number of voters, particularly the poor and minorities, and too easily dismiss the possibility of fraud. Republicans claim to be concerned about widespread fraud, but aren’t bothered if their alarms discourage Democratic-leaning blocs from voting. What’s needed is a commitment by both parties to take both fraud and voter suppression seriously.
Palm Beach Post Editorial
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Under the rubric of voter fraud, which they cannot demonstrate, and in the face of a massive and successful Democratic voter registration campaign, Republicans are scrambling to limit Americans’ right to vote in Florida and other key Electoral College states. These anti-democratic efforts put more pressure on voters to make sure that they are registered properly and know where to vote.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court correctly stopped Ohio Republicans from misinterpreting registration laws and trying to disenfranchise 200,000 voters. The measure even could have ensnared John McCain’s newly dubbed personification of the working class, Joe the plumber. Joe – actually Ohio voter Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher – is registered under the wrong spelling of his last name, Wor instead of Wur. Since his driver license shows it the right way, he could have been challenged under the federal no-match, no-vote law that Ohio’s Democratic secretary of state tried to block. The high The ruling won’t stop the hyperbole from the Republican National Committee, which is making the liberal group ACORN its latest nonissue against Barack Obama. Without adequate federal monitoring, The New York Times showed, states are purging voters from registration lists over minor discrepancies. The errors are due to a system burdened by overly narrow readings of requirements ostensibly designed to keep people from voting under another name.
For instance, election officials in Nevada – another swing state – used the Social Security database, a source of last resort, more than 740,000 times to check voter files or registration applications. They found 715,000 non-matches. Nevada officials said they cleared up the mistake when they realized that county clerks had been entering Social Security numbers in the wrong fields.
In Florida, overwhelmed election officials also are struggling to clear up no-match, no-vote discrepancies. It can take days or even weeks to rectify a single error in the law that Secretary of State Kurt Browning decided in September to enforce. Gov. Crist and Mr. Browning, however, have not overreacted. They ignored Republican talking points, refusing to accuse ACORN of voter fraud.
Early voting in Florida continues until Nov. 2. Until then, and on Election Day, voters whose right to cast a ballot is questioned at the polling place have one guaranteed fallback – the provisional ballot. Such ballots are reviewed by canvassing boards to determine whether the vote should count. In November 2006, 20 percent of the 1,805 provisional ballots cast in Palm Beach County were not counted, a study by the Advancement Project found. The top two reasons: Voters weren’t registered properly, or they voted at the wrong precinct.
People who move but show up at their old precinct can vote legally by filling out a form and documenting their new address, even on Election Day. They still must vote from the proper precinct. If they stay in the old precinct and cast a provisional ballot, under Florida’s strict interpretation of the law it will not count, even though the presidential race goes well beyond precinct boundaries.
Federal and state election laws have to strike a balance between the Republican wish to suppress turnout and the welcoming embrace of Democrats, who tend to benefit when more people vote. Things are not in balance when states make limiting voter access the priority.

Philadelphia Daily News — Opinion

Posted on Mon, Oct. 20, 2008

GOP is attacking ACORN – and that’s nuts

IT’S HARD NOT to see how ACORN would look like low-hanging fruit, so to speak, for an increasingly desperate Republican campaign.
Some of the most dismissive sneers by Rudy Giuliani and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin during the Republican convention came when they were talking about “community organizing” – which is what ACORN (the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now) does, and Barack Obama has done.
The two recent attacks on ACORN not only seem entirely political, but could have damaging side effects.
The first attack is almost too ludricrous to repeat: that the collapse of the financial markets should be blamed on the Community Reinvestment Act and on organizations like ACORN, because they enabled too many low-income people to get mortgages that they ultimately defaulted on, leading to a collapse of the financial markets. (More Details: Profit Secret eStafa)
Such a claim should be classified as an urban legend, alongside alligators in the sewer system.
The Community Reinvestment Act, enacted in 1977, forced banks to stop ignoring low- and moderate-income communities, or worse, discriminating against them. ACORN works in those communities to encourage home ownership, and it has fought the kind of predatory-lending practices that are in fact one of the key factors in the market crisis: subprime loans made to unqualified people, with huge fees and rates, expensive resets, and no financial accountability.
According to the Pennsylvania ACORN, the mortgages they help people get are 30-year, fixed-rate mortages, and all come with intensive financial counseling. Last year, the deliquency rate for its mortgages was 3.5 percent.
But it’s the voter registration efforts of the organization that have became the recent whipping boy of the McCain campaign. During last week’s presidential debate, McCain called ACORN’s voter-registration efforts a fraud that could be “destroying the fabric of democracy.”
That’s because a small percentage of the million-plus applications it turned in after a massive registration drive were bogus or had ficticious names. But ACORN says not only is it required to turn in all applications its gets, but that they had flagged those that were suspicious.
Many of the people ACORN has registered are low-income. Those are often Democratic voters. Now, the Republicans are crying foul.
This appears to be a continuation of a crackdown on voter fraud that the Bush administration launched six years ago. But last year, the Justice Department found no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to the New York Times.
In fact, a year-old account in the Times makes the current allegations sound like deja vu all over again: “In what would become a pattern, Republican officials and lawmakers in a number of states, including Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Washington, made accusations of widespread abuse, often involving thousands of votes . . . But the party officials and lawmakers were often disappointed. The accusations led to relatively few cases . . .”
Meanwhile, a decision in federal court will require Ohio’s secretary of state to check over a half-million registrations in two weeks. That will surely translate into confusion, delays, long lines and voter suppression. And that – keeping people from voting – is the real sound of the democracy’s fabric ripping. *

Man Dressed As Squirrel Disrupts Democrats