The ACORN Smokescreen for Done Deal 2008?
There’s been widespread media coverage of Republican allegations of vote-rigging by the liberal ACORN voter registration group. McCain’s vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has claimed that “We can't allow leftist groups like ACORN to steal this election” (1,2).
This provides the Republicans with a convenient smoke-screen for their actual election rigging, which has been revealed by investigations by American journalist Greg Palast, Bev Harris and others. Harris, the founder of Black Box Voting had her doubts about Diebold electronic voting machines confirmed by research by John Hopkins University.(3,4,5,6,7,8)
ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is a community group involved in campaigning for and organizing health care, education and voter registration in poor neighbourhoods. ACORN pays tens of thousands of employees to register low income voters. Hundreds of their employees decided to cheat to try and get more money for less effort. Over 800 were sacked as a result (9,10,11).
They estimate a few per cent of registrations submitted through them may be fraudulent. The authorities in the US have confirmed that ACORN has McCain’s supporters have seized on ACORN’s revision of it’s initial claim of the number of voters it had registered from 1.3 million to 450,000. The New York Times quoted an ACORN Spokesman as telling them that “The remainder are registered voters who were changing their address and roughly 400,000 that were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete forms and fraudulent submissions from low-paid field workers trying to please their supervisors, Mr. Slater acknowledged.” So the Republican charge that ACORN admits 30% of its registrations are fraudulent is false. Between 1 and 1.5% are, with around 29% covered by the other issues above. All were reported to election officials (9,10,11).
Some of the most notorious allegations of ‘fraud’ by ACORN are actually fraudulent registrations that ACORN itself reported to the authorities – such as the voter registration for ‘Micky Mouse’. The outrage over this has also been pretty silly since the registration will obviously never be accepted. By law all voter registration forms must be handed to the authorities to be processed whether they are suspected of being fraudulent or not (since otherwise the opposite problem could occur – with genuine voters unfairly not being registered) (9,10,11).
Steven Rosenfeld has pointed out that the Republican party’s own voter registration drives have encountered similar problems to ACORN’s and so does pretty much every ballot initiative or petition – and that millions of real voters who should have the right to vote not being registered is likely to be the real problem, especially as many states use social security registers as electoral registers – and the former often don’t include new voters or voters who’ve changed addresses (12).
Greg Palast found that there are also many genuine voters deliberately removed from electoral registers. From 2000 on Republicans and right-wing Democrats have taken the right to vote from poor black, Indian and Hispanic voters – who are far more likely to vote Democrat in Presidential elections and elect left wing delegates to Democratic party conventions (3,4,5,6).
These include the same people ACORN is trying to get registered to vote. They all come from groups which are far more likely to vote Democrat than Republican, which explains why the McCain campaign hates ACORN so much. John McCain himself praised ACORN as “what makes America special” in 2006, before he’d hitched himself to the Bush era Republican party machine’s black ops outfit – the same people who , under Karl Rove, smeared McCain’s family by hiring people to phone voters and pretend to be pollsters, then ask them what they thought about McCain having a ‘black baby’ fathered after an affair with a black woman. In fact the baby was adopted by the McCains (13), (14). Note the same attempt to appeal to racists and extreme Christian fundamentalists found in this campaign. The pretend pollsters are now asking Jewish voters if they know that ‘Barack Obama supports Hamas’(15).
The focus on ACORN means the Democrats’ lawyers are spending time countering Republican legal threats which they would otherwise have spent with lawsuits to get real voters who have been disenfranchised the right to vote and get their vote counted again.
Also notice the reporting of the Republicans allegations of vote rigging by Democrats and ACORN by most of the media. Almost none of the American media have reported the much more genuine instances raised by Palast, Harris, the John Hopkins researchers and others of low income voters being denied the right to vote. Just as with Barack Obama’s minister and church versus Sarah Palin’s the ‘liberal media’ seems to be remarkably favourable to the Republicans.
While the ACORN media controversy continues it turns out that the only people arrested on election rigging charges so far are both Republicans – one of them having been paid $175,000 by the McCain campaign (16).
(1) = Guardian 15 Oct 2008 ‘Democrats accused of trying to steal election’,http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/15/uselections2008-democrats
(2) = CNN Political Ticker 13 Oct 2008 ‘Palin: We can't let 'leftist groups…steal this election', http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/13/palin-we-cant-let-leftist-groupssteal-this-election/
(3) = Palast, Greg (2006) ‘Armed Madhouse’, Allen Lane, London, 2006,Chapter 4
(4) = BBC Newsnight ‘US election: fake voter claims’,
(5) = Observer 10 Dec 2000 ‘A blacklist burning for Bush’,
(6) = Palast, Greg (2003) ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy’ (2nd edn)
(7) = NYT 02 Dec 2003 ‘Hack The Vote’, by Paul Krugman,
(8) = NYT 03 Nov 2003 ‘File Sharing Pits Copyright Against Free Speech’,
(9) = NYT 23 Oct 2008 ‘Group’s Tally of New Voters Was Vastly Overstated’, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/us/politics/24acorn.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
(10) = Miami Herald ‘Republicans, ACORN feud over suspicious voter cards’,
(11) = Fox News 14 Oct 2008 ‘ACORN Responds to Palin Attack and More’,
(12) = Alternet 14 Oct 2008 ‘California GOP had Same Voter Registration Problems as ACORN in 2006’, http://www.alternet.org/democracy/102933/california_gop_had_same_voter_registration_problems_as_acorn_in_2006/?page=2
(13) = The Atlantic 13 Oct 2008 ‘Sen. McCain Stood With ACORN Rally In 2006’,
(14) = The Nation 14 Jan 2008 ‘Dirty Tricks, South Carolina and John McCain’,
(15) = Guardian 03 Oct 2008 ‘Fake pollsters' scare tactics target Obama’
(16) = Guardian 22 Oct 2008 ‘US election: Republican operative faces voter registration fraud charges’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/22/uselections2008-republicans