A Distinction Worth Making

There's a lot of kerfuffle over ACORN this week - but one distinction needs to be made as we have conversations with out friends, family, and neighbors this weekend: the voter registration issues involving ACORN are not the same as voter fraud itself. In Las Vegas, for example, reports surfaced that ACORN submitted voter registrations listing the names of the Dallas Cowboys.

But that doesn't mean someone's going to voting fraudulently even if the right-wing media implies so. It just means there may be faulty registrations that are never touched. Contrary to the implication, the Dallas Cowboys will not be voting in Clark County.

Ari at Oxdown sees a bigger picture:

This campaign is about race, plane and simple. ACORN is helping minorities to vote -- and guess what, that scares Republicans. Politically they fear losing elections, but this is about something much deeper.

Tags: Election 08 (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Re: A Distinction Worth Making

ACORN is a problem, and it seems to have caught Obama off-guard a bit (they've already had to edit the smear page). Its a mistake, similar to how many did with Wright, to defend ACORN like some are doing-- that's not getting out in front of the already formed storyline.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-10-10 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: A Distinction Worth Making

Wow.

"Hey, thanks for your 1.3 million low-income, minority, and young voters, but don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out."

"Hey, thanks for being instrumental in raising the minimum wage in FL in 2004 and in OH, CO, MO, and AZ in 2006 and nationally in 2007, but bus tires, meet ACORN."

Unbelievable.

by Project Vote 2008-10-11 11:52AM | 0 recs
Re: A Distinction Worth Making

Hey, thanks for the opportunity for Democrats to be linked to Republican voter fraud.

by ChitownDenny 2008-10-11 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: A Distinction Worth Making

Come on, this is exactly what happened in 2006 and led to the firings of the US Attorneys and to Gonzalez's resignation. Who did Iglesias fail to find evidence of fraud about? ACORN.

Who found all the potentially bad cards under investigation? ACORN.

Who cooperated fully with investigations? ACORN.

THis is a right-wing attack job designed to suppress votes and pave the way for disenfranchsing legislation like Voter ID, No Match No Vote, and voter roll purging requirements.

THere is no there there, only smear jobs. Look at Paul Rosenberg's piece in open Left today.

by Project Vote 2008-10-12 11:41AM | 0 recs
We must be out in front of this

ACORN does a pretty good job of getting people registered, but their good work and good intentions won't get an automatic pass from the media.

The wingnuts are all over this and they are owning the story right now. If we're going to turn it around it has to be done damn quick. They MUST find the perpetrators immediately, determine what motivated them and take decisive action to keep it from happening.

This has nothing to do with what is fair or what is right. ACORN has a real PR problem here, regardless of culpability. They must address it, because if they don't they will be discredited and ruined by the right-wing media.

by Spiffarino 2008-10-13 08:56AM | 0 recs
What likely happened here is this:

A bunch of poorly trained organizers who are getting paid peanuts wanted to post impressive numbers... because of that they created a bunch of faulty registrations to artificially inflate their actual registration numbers. This is more criminally stupid than it is criminal.

Having interviewed with ACORN and turned down a position with them twice I cannot say I am surprised by this turn of events. From what I have seen it is a poorly run organization with good intentions, but terrible instincts and ineffective tactics.

It is a shame that they have wound up biting us in the ass at this time...but it is not shocking to me. Amateur Hour will always wind up hurting us if we don't keep people in line.

by JDF 2008-10-10 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: What likely happened here is this:

Not true. Training is extensive. The fact is that ACORN is REQUIRED BY LAW to turn in every card, no matter whether it is good or bad.

ACORN has extensive quality control procedures that catch these problems and all the questionable cards are turned in to the authorities by ACORN itself and labelled as such.

The scandal here is that the authorities then use this to accuse ACORN of committing fraud.

Statement from ACORN on these attacks:
ACORN has just completed the largest, most successful nonpartisan voter registration drive in US history.  We helped 1.3 million low-income, minority, and young voters across the country register to vote
Unfortunately, just as in 2006, that success in bringing people into the democratic process, have been greeted with unfounded accusations to disparage our work and help maintain the status quo of an unbalanced electorate.
After a similar spate of charges against ACORN in 2006, we learned that then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had fired Republican US Attorneys because they refused to prosecute ACORN and other voter assistance groups on trumped up fraud charges.  This was the heart of the US Attorney-gate scandal that led Karl Rove, Gonzales and other top Department of Justice officials to resign.  Because the press didn't catch on until long after the election, it was part of a successful strategy to create an unfounded specter of voter fraud and to suppress voting.

Key Facts:

1. In order to help 1.3 million people register to vote, we hired more than 13,000 registration assistance workers r.  As with any business or agency that operates at this scale, there are always some people who want to get paid without really doing the job, or who aim to defraud their employer.  Any large department store will have some workers who shoplift.  

2. Any large voter registration operation will have a small percentage of workers who turn in bogus registration forms, Their goal clearly is not to cast a fraudulent vote.  It is simply to defraud their employer, ACORN, by getting a paycheck without earning it. ACORN is the victim of this fraud - not the perpetrator.

3. 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, putting the forms in a package that identified them in writing as suspicious, encouraging election officials to investigate, and offering to help with prosecutions.  We are required by law to turn in all forms, but instead of just turning them in and figuring that it is the responsibility of the board of elections to figure out which are valid, we spend millions of dollars verifying that forms are valid, and then separate out those that are suspicious.

4.  This has nothing to do with "voter fraud" - nothing at all to do with anyone trying to cast an extra vote.  There has never been a single reported instance in which bogus registration forms have led to anyone voting improperly.  To do that, they would have to show up at the polls, prove their identity as all first-time registrants must, and risk jail. The people who turned in these forms did so not because they wanted an extra vote, but because they didn't care enough to make sure eligible people got to vote at all.

5. When a department store calls the police to report a shoplifting employee, no one says the department store is guilty of consumer fraud.  But for some reason, when ACORN turns voter registration workers over to the authorities for filling out bogus forms, it gets accused of "voter fraud."  This is a classic case of blaming the victim; indeed, these charges are  outrageous, libelous, and often politically motivated.

6.  Similar attacks were launched against ACORN and other voter registration organizations in 2004 and 2006. The bogus charges were at the heart of  the U.S. Attorney-gate scandal that led to the resignations of Karl Rove, Attorney General Ablerto Gonzales and other top Justice Department Officials.  It turned out that it was the charges that were fraudulent, and that they were part of a systematic partisan agenda of voter suppression. Republican US Attorneys David Iglesias (NM), Todd Graves (MO), and John McKay (WA) all were fired primarily because they refused to prosecute similar bogus charges of "voter fraud."  Another US Attorney, Bradley Schlozman, who did politicize prosecutions against former ACORN canvassers, was forced to acknowledge under cross examination by the Senate Judiciary Committee that ACORN was the victim of fraud by its employees and ACORN had caught the employees and had identified them to law enforcement.

7.  The goals of the people orchestrating these attacks are to distract ACORN from helping people vote and to justify massive voter suppression.  That's the real voter fraud; the noise about a small fraction of the forms ACORN has turned in is meant to get the press and public take their eyes off the real threat, while those hurling the charges are stealing people's right to vote in broad daylight.  They have already tried to prevent Ohio from registering voters at its early voting sites.  In Michigan, they planned to use foreclosure notices to challenge thousands of voters. And if this year is like past years, they are preparing to use this so-called voter fraud to justify massive challenges to voters in minority precincts on Election Day.

The Details:

Fact: ACORN has implemented the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field but in almost every state we are required to turn in ALL completed applications, even the ones we know to be problematic.

Fact: ACORN flags in writing incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards when we turn them in,. Unfortunately, some of these same officials then come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in phony cards.  In many cases, we can actually prove that these are the same cards we called to their attention.  

Fact: Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card . ACORN has a zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in the cases where our internal quality controls have identified this happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to election officials and law-enforcement.

Fact: No criminal charges related to voter registration have ever been brought against ACORN or partner organizations.  Convictions against individual former ACORN workers have been accomplished with our full cooperation, using the evidence obtained through our quality control and verification processes -- evidence which in most cases WE called to the attention of authorities

Fact: Most election officials have recognized ACORN's good work and praised our quality control systems. Even in the cities where election officials have complained about ACORN, the applications in question represent less than 1% of the thousands and thousands of registrations ACORN has collected.

Fact: Our accusers not only fail to provide any evidence, they fail to suggest a motive: there is virtually no chance anyone would be able to vote fraudulently, so there is no reason to deliberately submit phony registrations. ACORN is committed to ensuring that the greatest possible numbers of people are registered

ACORN will not be intimidated, we will not be provoked, and in this important moment in history we will not allow anyone to distract us from these vital efforts to empower our constituencies and our communities to speak for themselves.

by Project Vote 2008-10-11 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: I wonder if in the end

Well put.  A worthy objective, run amok.

by ChitownDenny 2008-10-11 02:39PM | 0 recs
No Voting Fraud Here

I have represented ACORN in voting rights litigation from time to time and ACORN is always on the better side of the issues and this time around there is no voting fraud.  There may be fraud, but ACORN is the victim.  Some street hustlers turned in a bunch of names and got paid by ACORN for those names, and some supervisors, paid to check the names, were too hasty.  Not one fraudulent vote has been cast and there is no chance that these fake names will cause or permit anyone to vote fradulently. The only fraud here was perpetuated against ACORN.  ACORN is the victim of the fradulent conduct and the Republicans are turning that against Obama because they can and because they want to discredit any large scale effort to register poor folk.

by Arthurkc 2008-10-10 08:32PM | 0 recs
Why ACORN

I think there is another benefit to the ACORN "fraud" that people are missing. Republicans are engaging in massive voter fraud as we speak, and some of it is making the news. The usual suppression of minority votes and disenfranchisement of blacks is not so easy for the MSM to ignore when the Democratic candidate is black, and since this would be the first time voters become aware of those efforts by the GOP, they will automatically assume racist motives.

So, if the GOP is going to engage in voter fraud, and some of it will be reported, then they need some Democratic fraud as counterbalance, to accuse the media of bias any time they bring up their abuses without mentioning ACORN. They know the MSM has no concept of proportion, and will present it as fraud by "both sides", which the public will assume is a wash, and will find claims that the GOP are the real offenders to be the result of the partisan blinders of liberal extremists.

The reason the GOP always accuses Dems of their crimes is not just projection, but political calculation - they need to paint Dems as guilty of whatever they might get caught doing. Since they can't count on Dems to do the same sleazy things they do, they need to frame them for it, so that it appears to be politicians rather than republicans.

by Memekiller 2008-10-10 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: A Distinction Worth Making

Well said Josh.  Foxnews is implying that people will get to vote more than once.  It's obvious that things couldn't be far from the truth.  

by nzubechukwu 2008-10-11 03:07AM | 0 recs
Re: A Distinction Worth Making

You're on the right track here. ACORN is the victim of fraud.  They've expanded so fast they don't have enough trained supervisors and mid management. When people are paid bounties per form or have quotas to meet, and figure out no one's really paying attention, or have collusion with their immediate supervisor, then some are going to take advantage. It's certainly not to ACORN's advantage to turn in the Dallas Cowboys roster- BTW-how sexist-where are the cheerleaders?- it just diminshes the credibility of ACORN. Also not to be overlooked is ring wing plants in ACORN registration teams-especially in NV and IN where McCain's team know they  can only win with voter supression and this helps justify it.

by Skipster 2008-10-11 03:43AM | 0 recs
Re: A Distinction Worth Making

It needs to be said that ACORN has no authority to discard registrations - bogus or not.  By law they MUST turn in every registration filled out.  It is my firm belief that this ridiculously high number of suspect registrations is a concerted effort by nefarious Rove/Schmidt republicans to discredit ACORN.  If it were, in fact, simply a matter of poor folks getting paid per registration, wouldn't there be a significant percentage of suspect republican registrations?  

by bking7698 2008-10-11 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: A Distinction Worth Making

The problem with ACORN is they exploit their frontline staff, pay them next to nothing for extremely long hours, and then frequently their small paychecks bounce because the organization is poorly run and the bigwigs at the top simply don't care as long they get their far bigger salaries and perks. It's like a lot of "progressive" nonprofits run by the petty-bourgeois who think they are the "cool kids" and ordinary working class standards of decency don't apply to them.

You run an organization this way, with huge staff turn over, then of course its going to do things sloppily.

See how Wade Rathke (an ACORN-SEIU leader) covered up the embezzlement of one million dollars by his brother.

http://philanthropy.com/free/articles/v2 0/i24/24005801.htm

It's the same sense of entitlement that allows SEIU leader Tyrone Freeman (formerly a close friend and ally of Andy Stern) to steal millions from a union of low paid home care workers.

The big shots think they are feudal lords and they can treat the frontline staff and members like serfs.

SEIU in particular treats their frontline staff badly. They are forced to attack dissident union leaders within SEIU and campaign for the Stern approved candidates.

We need more democracy within the progressive organization to curb these type of abuses.

A group of rank and file ACORN organizers are now trying to organize against the abuses.

see
http://speakingtruth2power.org/acorn/

You look at almost any of these progressive canvassing organizations (environmental, get out the vote, whatever) - you see the same thing, a bunch of people at the bottom making no money, and a tight clique at the top with good salaries.

by aenglish 2008-10-11 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: A Distinction Worth Making

Hey,guess what? Rathke was fired for his role in the cover up and the ACORN staff emerging from that is doing a top-to-bottom review of everything, including working conditions.

We'll see what happens, but that's the old ACORN. Let's wait and see what happens with the new ACORN.

Also that Truth 2 Power group is nothing but a front for conservatives to bash ACORN. Their front person went on FOX news and totally bashed to group without making any specific allegations. Total hatchet job. No creditibility there at all.

by Project Vote 2008-10-12 11:45AM | 0 recs

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