ACORN and voter registration

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Tue Oct 21 08:52:56 CDT 2008


[ed: the following are responses forwarded by ACORN regarding the voter 
registration controversy, all from Brian Kettering, flacornho at acorn.org. 
I also remind everyone that, as this list uses State of Wisconsin 
resources, I do not censor any messages that are on topic. I may request 
clarification if a message is unclear or might be misinterpreted, but I 
am always willing to send out the original message at the author's request.]

An Update From ACORN

Dear Friends,

Please find below a piece written by Project Vote debunking the recent 
negative press regarding our voter registration work.

Steve Kest

To: Reporters

From: Michael Slater, Executive Director, Project Vote

Contact: Sarah Massey, for Project Vote, 202.445.1169

Date: October 18, 2008


Media and Election Experts Assess the Allegations of Voter Registration 
Fraud

Everything has its season, and the month before a national election is 
the season for partisan allegations of "voter fraud." This year has been 
different mostly in degrees. The issue of a small number of bogus voter 
registration applications in ACORN's historic 1.31 million voter 
registration drive (conducted in partnership with Project Vote) has 
taken a prominent place in the dramaturgy of the Republican presidential 
campaign strategy.

On October 2 the RNC launched its opening salvo against ACORN with a 
teleconference call with media in which RNC counsel Sean Cairncross 
claimed ACORN was "engaged in a systematic effort to undermine the 
integrity of the election process nationwide." The McCain-Palin campaign 
has attempted to turn fears of "voter fraud"-and Senator Barack Obama's 
transparently tenuous ties to ACORN-into an attack on Obama's candidacy, 
a justification for voter challenges, and a fundraising opportunity . 
Republican presidential candidate Senator McCain recklessly escalated 
the rhetoric in the last presidential debate on October 15, in which he 
said "We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship 
with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the 
greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the 
fabric of democracy."

Journalists have taken up the challenge to assess the truth of these 
claims and have found them wanting.



Reporters and Voting Rights Experts agree that the allegations are 
unwarranted and that the threat of "voter fraud" is grossly exaggerated 
for partisan purposes.


• Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers says: "Republicans have leveled 
similar allegations against the coalition known as ACORN in every 
election since at least 2000, but they have yet to produce proof that 
the group poses a threat to election integrity." ("Will McCain get any 
traction from latest Acorn allegations? ", October 10)

• Senator Barack Obama understands that: "ACORN is a community 
organization…they were paying people to go out and register folks, and 
apparently some of the people who were out there didn't really register 
people, they just filled out a bunch of names." (Presidential Debate , 
October 15)

• Michael Winship of Bill Moyers Journal says: "the ACORN 'election 
fraud' story is one of those urban legends, like fake moon landings and 
alligators in the sewers, and it appears three or four weeks before 
every recent national election with the regularity of the swallows 
returning to Capistrano." ("A Mighty Hoax from ACORN Grows ," October 17)

• Cynthia Tucker editorializes in the Atlanta Journal Constitution: " 
The Republican nominee is once again using fear as a tactic to try to 
win votes...Fake voters are a myth, a convenient cover for those who 
really don't believe in the universal franchise. (ACORN has been accused 
of fraudulent registrations; for actual voter fraud to occur, persons 
with those fake names would have to show up to cast ballots.) There is 
no evidence of people coming to the polls using false names and 
fraudulent IDs. (" Don't buy frenzy over voter fraud ," October 17)

• The New York Times editorializes: "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… For all of the McCain campaign's 
manufactured fury about vote theft (and similar claims from the 
Republican Party over the years) there is virtually no evidence - 
anywhere in the country, going back many elections - of people showing 
up at the polls and voting when they are not entitled to... The real 
threats to the fabric of democracy are the unreasonable barriers that 
stand in the way of eligible voters casting ballots" ("The ACORN Story 
," October 17)

Even election officials in key states have said that they detected no 
problems with ACORN's voter registration drives.

• Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said Ohio ACORN's head 
organizer: "is very experienced and conscientious, and we've had nothing 
but good experiences working with her." (Interview on "Democracy Now ," 
October 9)

• The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: "The group has caused no such 
problems, according to Republican city elections director Scott 
Leiendecker. ACORN finished its efforts in St. Louis about three months 
ago, he said. So far, he said, "Everything's been on the up and up." 
("GOP Attacking ACORN's voter registration efforts," October 11 )

• The Orlando Sentinel reports: "The heat coming from national 
Republicans isn't shared by Florida's GOP leadership. Both Gov. Charlie 
Crist and Secretary of State Kurt Browning have said they don't mind 
ACORN being active in Florida's election process. When reporters asked 
Crist if there was a problem with ACORN here, he said, "No." ("ACORN's 
voter sign-ups bother McCain, but not Crist," October 12 )

• The Miami Herald finds that: "Breaking with the talking points of his 
fellow Republicans in Washington, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said he 
does not think voter fraud and the vote-registration group ACORN are a 
major problem in the Sunshine State. ''I think that there's probably 
less [fraud] than is being discussed. As we're coming into the closing 
days of any campaign, there are some who enjoy chaos,' Crist told 
reporters…Crist's Republican Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, said he 
doesn't think ACORN is committing systematic voter fraud." (" Crist 
breaks with Republicans over ACORN voter fraud charges ," October 15, 2008)

• The Houston Chronicle reports: "There is no evidence of intentional 
manipulation of the voter rolls here, according to the county's voter 
registrar." ("ACORN sign-ups in Harris seem legitimate," October 16)


In reality the attacks against ACORN have nothing to do with fear of 
"voter fraud," and everything to do with fear of low-income and minority 
voters.

• Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) writing at The Huffington Post said: 
"The real reason [for the Republican attacks] is obvious: Because ACORN, 
along with Project Vote, just announced that they had successfully 
registered 1.3 million poor people this year." (Attacks on ACORN Based 
Not on Facts, But on Fear of 1.3 Million Poor People Registering , 
October 10)

• In the Capital Times (Madison, WI) Joel McNally editorializes: 
"Republicans have another underlying motive for attacking ACORN. It is 
an organization that engages in that dreaded community organizing. It 
actually tries to give a voice to the poor and most vulnerable among 
us...Clearly, organizations like ACORN are on the front lines of 
promoting democracy in this country while Republicans are trying to stop 
its spread." (entitled "GOP Battles the Spread of Democracy ," October 10)

• Miles Rapoport, former Connecticut Secretary of State and President of 
Demos spoke out: "I think the criticism of ACORN is a diversionary issue 
that should not be allowed to cloud what is happening this year, which 
is an extraordinary flowering of democracy. ACORN is to be applauded for 
encouraging that, not criticized, and I am proud to stand with them." 
(ACORN Press Conference , October 14)

• Election law attorney Rick Hasen at the Huffington Post says: "For the 
last three elections, Republicans have been ramping up cries of voter 
fraud as a way of undermining the legitimacy of the election results 
should they not turn out in their favor and providing a reason for 
strict voting purges that are likely to remove many Democratic voters 
from the rolls." ("The Purge Surge: Why the GOP Is Nuts About ACORN ," 
(October 10)

• Former U.S. attorney David Iglesias recently told Talking Points Memo: 
"I'm astounded that this issue is being trotted out again. Based on what 
I saw in 2004 and 2006, it's a scare tactic." ("Iglesias: 'I'm 
Astounded' By DOJ's ACORN Probe ," October 16)

• As Reported in The Hill, Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP says: 
"This latest attack on ACORN follows a sorry pattern, played out in 
election after election. Republicans have practiced an assortment of 
subtle and overt methods to suppress and smother voter registration and 
turnout…Ever since they first practiced voter suppression, they've 
yelled, 'Voter fraud!' " ("Groups: ACORN attacks meant to suppress 
vote," October 15)

• People for the American Way (PFAW) President Kathryn Kolbert says: 
"Those who are stirring the 'voter fraud' pot don't want to talk about 
voter suppression and intimidation. They want to use the code word of 
'voter fraud' as cover for their real objective of voter 
suppression…It's a sad day when a campaign's success strategy is 
dependent upon keeping voters away from the polls." (ACORN Press 
Conference, October 14.

• The Kansas City Star asks: "So why all the caterwauling from 
Republicans? The most salient point is that ACORN has registered more 
than 1.3 million voters this election cycle. Of course many of these 
people are in demographic groups - minorities, and lower- and 
middle-income Americans - who tend to vote for Democrats. And many of 
these people are ready to vote for change…" ("Friday Editorial: McCain's 
spurious attacks on ACORN," October 16)

**************************

For Immediate Release: For More Information Contact:

October 20, 2008 Brian Kettenring: (727) 692-7215 or flacornho at acorn.org



GOP Targets Latino Voters in New Mexico with Fraud Smear



As McCain/Republican Suppression Escalates, Ugly Consequences Emerge



October 20, 2008 – Last Thursday, New Mexico Republicans held a press 
conference announcing that they had identified 28 voters who 
“fraudulently” voted in the June 2008 state primary.[1] By Saturday 
morning, ACORN held a press conference with several of the supposed 
bogus voters; they were in fact valid voters, as confirmed by local 
elections officials[2]. These valid voters, mostly Latino and 
low-income, had been targeted unfairly and publicly by the local GOP. As 
the McCain Campaign and GOP officials at multiple levels have stepped up 
their campaign of voter suppression, we are seeing the attendant, and 
nasty, consequences emerge in different forms, which will be the topic 
of Monday’s call.



ACORN Press Call

Monday, October 20, 2008, 11:00 AM EST

Call in # 800-247-5110, Pass Code 83884721



The Monday call will discuss a set of Republican actions that are the 
direct and indirect consequence of the McCain/GOP campaign to challenge 
targeted groups of voters and organizations that support them, including:



· The smearing of valid voters, in New Mexico, with charges of fraud.

· Increasing efforts to leverage voter fraud charges into baseless 
challenges of new registrants[3];

· Reported violence, threats, and racist and threatening communications 
directed at ACORN and associated volunteers[4] (An Obama WI canvasser 
reportedly attacked Saturday[5]);

· Possible challenges to foreclosed voters in multiple states;[6]

###

[1] 
http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%20News/N-M--Republican-Party-finds-28-suspect-voters

[2] http://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/apvoters10-18-08.htm

[3] http://wfmz.com/view/?id=561113

[4] 
http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/hate-you-can-believe-acorn-deluged-threatening-and-racist-voicemails-and-emails

[5] http://www.wisn.com/politics/17754232/detail.html

[6] e.g. Indiana: 
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081003/NEWS0502/810030478/1008/LOCAL19



Brian Kettenring, Head Organizer
Florida ACORN
1380 W. Flagler Miami, FL 33135
flacornho at acorn.org * www.florida.acorn.org

(305) 644-3005 x114
(727) 692-7215 cell
(561) 828-3154 efax

**********************************

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/rnc_on_new_mexico_voter_fraud.php

RNC On New Mexico "Voter Fraud": Never Mind
By Zachary Roth <http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/zroth> - 
October 20, 2008, 4:10PM
As if you needed any more evidence that the Republican effort to tout 
voter fraud is less about legitimate claims and more about a political 
agenda, consider this sequence of events:

Last week, as we noted 
<http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/unchastened_nm_republicans_sti.php> 
at the time, the New Mexico GOP had publicly claimed 
<http://www.koat.com/politics/17736001/detail.html?rss=alb&amp;psp=news> 
that 28 people voted fraudulently in the Democratic primary, held in 
June, for a local race.

Then this morning, the RNC sent out a press release announcing a 3pm 
conference call with reporters "on the recent developments in New Mexico 
regarding ACORN."

But at 11am, ACORN -- the community organizing group that Republicans 
have been trying lately to turn into a voter fraud boogeyman -- held a 
conference call of its own, asserting that local election officials had 
confirmed that the 28 people in question, mostly low-income Latinos, 
were valid voters.

So here at TPMmuckraker, we wondered what the RNC's response to this 
would be. And on the 3pm call, we asked party spokesman Danny Diaz.

Diaz dodged the question. He talked about an incident with ACORN in 
Washington state, then referred us to an October 9th Wall Street Journal 
story <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122351568128417691.html> , which 
did not address the allegation made last week by the state GOP about 
fraudulent voting in the Democratic primary. (Instead, it reported that 
the FBI had opened a preliminary investigation into thousands of 
fraudulent registration forms submitted in an area near an ACORN office.)

When we tried to follow up, Diaz cut us off and shifted the discussion 
toward a general attack on ACORN for submitting fraudulent registrations.

In other words, it looks like the RNC had scheduled a call to tout 
evidence of voter fraud -- not voter registration fraud, mind you, but 
actual voter fraud -- being perpetrated by ACORN in New Mexico. But when 
ACORN appeared to come up with compelling evidence that no such fraud 
had occurred, the RNC held the call anyway, simply shifting the focus to 
other vague allegations against ACORN -- then refused to address the New 
Mexico situation when asked.


Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
> --------
> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
> --------
>  
> Hi COMM-ORG,
>
> Those of you who have been following the controversy around ACORN's 
> voter registration efforts, may be interested in a couple of posts on 
> the Rooflines site, http://www.rooflines.org/, as well as a New York 
> Times editorial at 
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/opinion/17fri1.html?_r=1&em&oref=slogin.
>
> Randy Stoecker,
> moderator/editor, COMM-ORG
> rstoecker at wisc.edu
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