ACORN and "Voter Fraud": The Nuts Are Falling From the Trees

First, in the interest of fairness, balance and warm fuzzy feelings in our collective tummies, let me address the workers who register voters for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Many of you are Democrats or sympathetic to Democratic candidates. You go to work for ACORN because you believe in their mission to help low and moderate income families get housing, or in their other charitable work aimed at segments of the population who also look favorably on Democratic economic policies. Registering people to vote is A) a productive way to participate in our democracy and B) a good way to make some cash during the summer. Given the events of the last eight years, some of you may be feeling A) angry about the prospect of another Republican administration and B) broke. A few of you may feel compelled to gin up fake registrations A) in order to pad the numbers of new voters, who have been overwhelmingly going to the Democrats this year, in an effort to demoralize Republicans into thinking they face an unstoppable juggernaut, or B) because you just want easy money and not have to work for it. Turning in 450 new registrations with fake names on them is A) counterproductive (I’ll explain why in a moment) and B) knock it off. Seriously. Knock it off.

Now for those who have their knickers in a twist over this supposed “VOTER FRAUD!!!!!” Some people have not grasped that “registration fraud” is not the same as “voter fraud.” You can have 1,000 fake registration forms with the name “Mickey Mouse” on them, but unless a 2’-tall, animated talking rodent shows up at the polls, there’s no actual “vote fraud” happening (and if a 2’-tall, animated talking rodent does show up, who he’s voting for is the least of your problems). If anything, fraud is being perpetrated on ACORN, who’s paying people who turn in fake registrations (all of which must be turned in, fake or not, so as to keep ACORN from throwing out legitimate forms for, say, Republicans). That ACORN catches most of these fake forms goes unheeded by their detractors on the right; in their eyes, ACORN is doing this on purpose in order to…to what? Make Democrats’ Get Out the Vote efforts on election day that much more difficult? The number of instances of actual voter fraud that come from fake registration forms can be counted on your fingers.

So why is ACORN the rightwing Demon of the Week? Why is anyone even talking about this? Because every two years, Republicans attempt to suppress the number of people who vote, particularly minorities and lower income people – the very people ACORN focuses on helping – who are more likely to vote Democratic. They try to equate registration fraud with voter fraud so they can have large numbers of new registrations thrown out – Congratulations Ohio! [] – and to establish an argument on which to question the legitimacy of the election’s outcome. Count on it. []

What’s more, the inevitable Republican calls for investigations into non-existant “voter fraud” is what led to the Prosecutor Purge scandal in George W. Bush’s Justice Department. Bush-appointed U.S. Attorneys were tasked with looking into instances of Democratic “voter fraud” stemming from fake registration forms. Unfortunately for them, many of the attorneys were honest and concluded that there was no systemic fraud being perpetrated. So they were fired. Kill the messenger and all that.

McCain and the GOP are terrified of losing the election. The Republican party is pulling out all the stops to keep from getting blown out. That means making it difficult as possible for the poor and dusky-hued to make their voices heard. As perennial Upper-Class Twit of the Year George Will put it recently []:

“The second problem with early voting is that one of its supposed benefits is actually a subtraction from civic health. The benefit is that it makes voting easier—indeed, essentially effortless. But surely the quality of the electoral turnout declines when the quantity is increased by ‘convenience voting.’”

In other words, as more people vote, the worse it is for conservatives.

Ahhhh, Democracy!

– Michael Turner