By Brad Friedman on 10/7/2008, 4:30pm PT  

I had been intending to post an answer to the ongoing --- and quickly escalating --- ACORN smears being issued of late by the GOP enemies of democracy out there, who have decided to intensify their unsubstantiated assaults on the community organization, given its effectiveness at registering millions of low-income voters across the country.

Today's incredible raid of an ACORN office in Las Vegas --- in hotly contested Nevada, as coincidence would have it --- has forced me to push this to the top of the heap right now. I've also posted ACORN's statement on today's nonsense in Vegas at the end of this article. Note to corporate media: Be sure not to read or report on that part of the story!

With prospects looking bleak for the Republicans this November, pulling out the old ACORN lie --- in hopes of scaring people away from the polls, causing chaos in November by challenging voters when they show up to vote, and putting in place baseless grounds to contest close results later on (when the GOP become "sore losers") --- is just about all they have left at this point.

Doubtless you've heard the smears by now: that ACORN is committing "voter fraud," on behalf of Obama, in hotly contested swing states. The media have been all too happy to pass that garbage on, without bothering to note that, in fact, the organization attempts to authenticate every registration form its workers submit and by law they must turn in every form to election officials --- even if they find a registration to be fraudulent when they call the phone number submitted on the form, or if the forms are otherwise suspect or incomplete.

They do so, and they flag all questionable registration forms as being suspect before turning them in to officials.

The thanks they receive for registering millions of new voters that nobody else has bothered with, and for notifying officials about questionable registration forms when they turn them in, is that the GOP's democracy-hating propagandists and election officials run to the media shouting, "ACORN is committing voter fraud! They've turned in hundreds and thousands of fraudulent registration forms!"

Of course they have. They have to. By law. But what those GOP despots of democracy always forget to mention is that it was ACORN themselves who notified officials about the potentially fraudulent and/or incomplete forms in the first place!...

Due to their success in registering voters, ACORN has long been a strawman target for the GOP. In 2004, for example, just days before the Presidential election, the wingnut media even went so far as to falsely report that the group had registered a terrorist to vote in Ohio.

For the quickest idea of how the GOP ACORN scam has run amok again this year, as dutifully forwarded by the often clueless corporate media, and then the rightwing wankers in the blogosphere who are only to happy to help enable those who are lying to them --- by putting truth, democracy and country second --- take a look at the following game of rightwing "blogosphere telephone" concerning a recent news conference called by a Lake County, Indiana, GOP chair in order to sound the phony alarm about "fraud" committed by ACORN...

  • 10/2/08: Northwest Indiana Times files a report headlined "County rejects large number of invalid voter registrations." The article reports on a news conference held by the Lake County, IN, Republican Party chairman, John Curley, who claims "fraudulent applications are the workings of ACORN groups operating from Milwaukee and Chicago who are getting out the vote for Obama." Curley notes "one registration form was filled out in the name and address of Jimmy John's, a Crown Point fast-food outlet," and other problem registration forms. He says that county election officials were able to "weed out obviously invalid applications," but neither the reporter, nor apparently Curley, bother to note that ACORN had already informed the officials about the questionable "Jimmy John's" registration when they turned it in, along with the other separately flagged registration forms.
  • 10/5/08: Susan Duclos at files an article, linking back to the Times story, headlined "More Dead, Underage And Fictitious Voter Registrations in Indiana, From ACORN", in which the uncurious blogger describes ACORN as "in the news in multiple cities across America lately for filing voter registrations for people that were dead, underage and in some cases duplicate filings." She charges "many people that should be able to legitimately vote, might not be able to because ACORN members 'delivered incomplete registrations.'" She fails to note that even "incomplete registrations" must be turned in to officials --- by law.
  • 10/6/08: Some yutz at Newsvine, then links back to Duclos with the headine "Obama and Acorn Register Dead Voters in Indiana," virtually charging Obama himself with personally voting thousands of times, using the names of dead people, or some such nonsense. Thankfully, that story has been "removed by the Newsvine community," who must have been smart enough to see it for the bullshit that it was, since I originally saw it yesterday. But not without the damage already being done, of course.

That's just one of the smallest examples of how this works. Add to it the unchecked megaphones of Rush, Drudge, Hannity, Fox, and the democracy-haters are off and running, and have their strategy for chaos, purged voters, long lines at the polls, and post-election challenges all lined up for this November. Add the Bush Dept. of Justice to it, and friendly local and state cops, and you get today's PR bonanza in Las Vegas, where the "ACORN Raid," substantiated or not, will be second only to tonight's debate in the headlines tomorrow and for the rest of the month.

As mentioned, ACORN has just released a statement noting a number of the points I've made above --- and which I have been making to anybody who brings up this garbage over the past year --- on the events that took place today in Las Vegas. Earlier today, they put out a response to the Indiana allegations. Those are also now posted below. Please help spread the word, since clearly, the corporate media won't bother to the real story.

For Immediate Release: October 7, 2008

ACORN Statement from Bertha Lewis, Interim Chief Organizer, on Incident in Las Vegas:

"Over the past year, ACORN has worked hard to help over 80,000 people in Clark County register to vote. As part of our nonpartisan voter registration program, we have [to] review 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 in to 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.

Today's raid by the Secretary of State's Office is a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than discredit our work registering Nevadans and distracting us from the important work ahead of getting every eligible voter to the polls."

And in regard to Indiana, from an ACORN spokesperson earlier today...

The Republican Party is trying to use this attack to stop early voting from happening and disenfranchise tens of thousands of Lake County residents.

ACORN has submitted 1.3 million applications nationally and over 23,000 in Indiana.

ACORN engages in comprehensive quality control procedures, every card is called through three times.

ACORN flags and turns in three kinds of cards, those that it can verify, those that are incomplete, and those that it flags as problematic. It turns those in labeled in a special way and are very conservative in terms of what it flags as problematic. It has stacks of problematic cover sheets.

The Lake County Board of Elections refused to acknowledge the categories of cards when ACORN turned them in, or sign its paperwork. The Lake County Board knew about the questionable registrations today because ACORN flagged them for the board. For example, the Jimmy John’s card is one that a caller had flagged and labeled as problematic. ACORN can get that caller to talk to the press.

ACORN did Voter Registration from in July and some parts of August. As it was doing quality control ACORN noticed a large number of problematic cards and because of this it eased doing registration until late September when it could clear its quality control backlog.

ACORN’s recent cards from September and early October are not problematic at the same levels.

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