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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, August 07, 2008

ACORN

by folkbum

If you read the right-wing blogs or listen to talk radio, I'm sorry you have to put up with that. Also, you probably heard about this story, that the "activitst" community organizing group ACORN noticed that a dozen or so of the 220 people it hired to register voters in Milwaukee were turning in voter registration cards that were either incomplete in some way or outright phony:
Criminal investigations could be launched against at least six voter registration workers who tried to add dead, imprisoned or imaginary people to the voter rolls, according to the Milwaukee Election Commission and the organization that employed them.

Officials are reviewing some 200 to 300 fraudulent voter registration cards, Sue Edman, the commission’s executive director, said Wednesday.

And even though the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now caught the fraud and reported it before the cards were turned in, the incident revived a four-year-old partisan debate over the integrity of Wisconsin’s voter registration process, as political groups step up efforts to sign up voters for the Nov. 4 presidential election. [. . .] ACORN found the problems and fired a dozen workers, Castore said. Five of them appeared to be working together, she added.

But under state law, all of the voter registration cards collected had to be turned in to the election commission, even if they were clearly fraudulent or incomplete, Edman said. ACORN sent in all the cards its workers had submitted, but flagged the fraudulent or incomplete ones.

Edman said she has referred six individuals to the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office for investigation. More could be referred within the next few days, after the commission staff finishes its review of the registration cards, she said.

Castore said her group would cooperate fully with any official investigation. A prosecutor in the district attorney’s white-collar crime unit did not return a call seeking comment.

Another 1,500 to 2,000 voter registration cards were incomplete, and ACORN is trying to help the commission staff fill in the blanks, Castore said.
The righties, predictably, flipped out. It was "attempted voter fraud," or "just a little vote fraud." "ACORN [is] making it up again," one said. One referred to ACORN's "fraudulent techniques," one called ACORN "America's favorite voter fraud organization," and another implied that ACORN was "out there [. . .] actively trying to undermine the system." Flipping out, I tell you.

But that's because all those people apparently can't read. I'll quote some of that story again, this time with bold print:
Criminal investigations could be launched against at least six voter registration workers who tried to add dead, imprisoned or imaginary people to the voter rolls, according to the Milwaukee Election Commission and the organization that employed them. [. . . T]he Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now caught the fraud and reported it before the cards were turned in [. . .]. ACORN found the problems and fired a dozen workers [. . .]. ACORN sent in all the cards its workers had submitted, but flagged the fraudulent or incomplete ones. Castore said her group would cooperate fully with any official investigation. [. . .]

Another 1,500 to 2,000 voter registration cards were incomplete, and ACORN is trying to help the commission staff fill in the blanks, Castore said.
Got that? ACORN identified their own workers breaking the law and fired them. ACORN turned over the evidence of the lawbreaking to the city officials. ACORN is trying to help city officials straighten out the mess, and ACORN will cooperate with the criminal investigation that rightly will follow.

(UPDATE: To make it more clear, here is the AP article on the story: "ACORN [. . .] employees reviewed forms turned in by canvassers before submitting them to the commission, Castore said. She said about 96 percent of the forms turned out to be legitimate. 'If there was any suspicion of either fraudulent activity or just really sloppy work, we terminated them, and we informed the elections commission,' Castore said. 'We were catching it.' [Milwaukee election commissioner Sue] Edman agreed the group uncovered most of the problems.")

But who are the rightie-tighties blaming for all of this? ACORN, of course--and many of them are not mincing their words at all in accusing the group of purposely perpetrating fraud. That's not only factually inaccurate, it's probably actionable libel. Too bad they couldn't bother to read what actually happened to see that ACORN here is doing the right thing, the legal thing, the ethical thing. Those who lie about what ACORN is doing are the ones who are frauds.

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