Saturday, October 18, 2008


From the New York Times editorial board:

The Acorn Story

Acorn is a nonprofit group that advocates for low- and moderate-income people and has mounted a major voter-registration drive this year. Acorn says that it has paid more than 8,000 canvassers who have registered about 1.3 million new voters, many of them poor people and members of racial minorities.

In recent weeks, the McCain campaign has accused the group of perpetrating voter fraud by intentionally submitting invalid registration forms, including some with fictional names like Mickey Mouse and others for voters who are already registered.

Based on the information that has come to light so far, the charges appear to be wildly overblown — and intended to hobble Acorn’s efforts.

The group concedes that some of its hired canvassers have turned in tainted forms, although they say the ones with phony names constitute no more than 1 percent of the total turned in. The group also says it reviews all of the registration forms that come in. Before delivering the forms to elections offices, its supervisors flag any that appear to have problems.

According to Acorn, most of the forms that are now causing controversy are ones that it flagged and that unsympathetic election officials then publicized.

More here.

This is yet another bogus right-wing "argument" that's driving me nuts. Sure sure, Acorn was taken in by some of their registration canvassers - who work for shit wages, no doubt, and you always get what you pay for in such situations - but the organization itself reported the bogus registrations to state authorities when turning them in. In short, the only people defrauded here were members of the liberal group now being attacked viciously by Republicans.

Further, as observed by Atrios over at Eschaton, there is a big whopping difference between voter registration fraud, and voting fraud. That is, voting fraud, like stuffing ballot boxes with fake votes, is essentially election tampering, along the lines of what Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris, and the rest of the state GOP apparatus did in Florida back in 2000--it's bad shit that truly threatens democracy. Registration fraud, especially of the variety that's screwed Acorn, on the other hand, while lame and illegal, does not threaten democracy. At worst, it causes some bureaucrats to do more paperwork than they might ordinarily have to do. I mean, these bogus registrations were about lazy canvassers, who are paid by the number of registrations they submit, getting some extra ill-gotten bucks: nobody actually uses these Micky Mouse and Tony Romo registrations to vote.

But the right wing needs something to scream and wail hysterically about. It also helps them out a bit. First, when Democrats make genuine and serious allegations of GOP disenfranchisement efforts, or election day dirty tricks, Republicans can always scream "ACORN!!!" as though it meant something even though it doesn't. Second, the more conservatives push this bullshit voter fraud story, the closer they get to tightening up restrictions on voting, which makes elections much less democratic, which always works in their favor--it has long been understood that if the entire voter eligible population actually voted, Republicans would almost never be elected.

How on earth do these bullshit GOP "arguments" gain any traction at all? How can the news media, even the detestable FOX, take this shit seriously? I mean, this is a bad argument. If it were a high school debate it could be dismissed this easily: voter registration fraud is not voting fraud, no harm. Yeah, nine words to take out what Republicans have been going on and on about for fucking weeks!

Are we really that stupid?