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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Blind squirrels don't find ACORNs this time, either

by folkbum

The right is in high dudgeon again because of ACORN, the community organizers who, as part of their mission, identify non-voters and register them so that those traditionally voiceless in the electoral process might find a voice--the vote being guaranteed in the Constitution and whatnot.

Most recently, there's the raid of an ACORN office in Nevada by state officials looking for evidence of fraud. Problem is, ACORN had been sending state officials evidence of fraud--no search warrant needed!--for months and officials ignored it:
As part of our nonpartisan voter registration program, we have reviewed all the applications submitted by our canvassers. When we have identified suspicious applications, we have separated them out and flagged them for election officials. We have zero tolerance for fraudulent registrations. We immediately dismiss employees we suspect of submitting fraudulent registrations.

For the past 10 months, any time ACORN has identified a potentially fraudulent application, we turn that application into election officials separately and offer to provide election officials with the information they would need to pursue an investigation or prosecution of the individual.

Election officials routinely ignored this information and failed to act. In early July, ACORN asked to meet with election officials to express our concerns that they were not acting on information ACORN had presented to them. ACORN met with Clark County elections officials and a representative of the Secretary of State on July 17th. ACORN pleaded with them to take our concerns about fraudulent applications seriously. One week later, elections officials asked us to provide them with a second copy of what we had previously provided to them. ACORN responded by giving election officials copies of 46 "problem application packages," which involved 33 former canvassers.

On September 23, ACORN had received a subpoena dated September 19th requesting information on 15 employees, all of whom had been included in the packages we had previously submitted to election officials. ACORN provided our personnel records on these 15 employees on September 29.
Got that? Nevada officials have known for months that some ACORN workers had been turning in forms for, to name one example, the Dallas Cowboys. Nevada officials knew this because ACORN told them about it. And yet the Secretary of State there (a Democrat, no less) waited until a month before the election to stage a high profile media stunt and to accuse ACORN of engaging in fraud when, in reality, it was ACORN who tried to stop the fraud in the first place.

More locally, we have Republicans freaking out that ACORN used former felons in its voter registration drives, despite a ruling by the Government Accountability Board in April that such people were ineligible to act as registrars. Did you hear about that ruling in April? Neither did I, and neither, apparently, did the City of Milwaukee, whose job it was to deputize the registrars. They were going by the text of the law which says (.pdf) that "[a] qualified elector of the state may apply to any municipal clerk or board of election commissioners to be appointed as a special registration deputy for the purpose of registering electors of the municipality prior to the close of registration" (6.26(2)a). Since former felons may vote in this state (they are "qualified electors"), the statute clearly permits former felons to be special registration deputies, something the GAB apparently changed without legislative approval and without making sure that every municipality--like Milwaukee--knew.

So once again, ACORN is trying to follow the law both here and in Nevada, and trying to cooperate and coordinate with state and local officials to make sure the law is being followed and that anyone breaking the law is punished for doing so. And yet the right sees ACORN as the bad guys. I don't understand why; it seems like merely attempting to give minorities and the poor a greater say in the election is enough to earn a group like ACORN constant and undeserved scorn.

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