Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama Calls the ACORN Bluff

So John McCain has been crying wolf over ACORN registration fraud? Fine, says Obama, let's appoint a special prosecutor to take a look at it, along with all other allegations of voter fraud or voter suppression. The McCain campaign's response? Strident opposition, of course. It's an "absurd" attempt to "criminalize political discourse". But, the spokesman continued,
Rest assured that, despite these threats, the McCain-Palin campaign will continue to address the serious issue of voter registration fraud by ACORN and other partisan groups, and compliance by states with the Help America Vote Act's requirement of matching new voter registrations with state data bases to prevent voter fraud.

Yes -- having qualified professionals actually take a look at your allegations would be a threat when your claims are completely bogus.

Meanwhile, it is worth stressing again what this ACORN business is all about. ACORN's objective is to register as many new voters as possibly (or, depending on your level of cynicism, as many new liberal voters as possible -- it actually doesn't matter for purpose of our analysis). It pays some of its employees by the amount of registrations they collect, and some of those employees collected fraudulent registrations -- either by registering the same person multiple times, or by simply putting down false names. ACORN is legally bound, however, to turn in every registration card that it receives -- a good thing if you think they're just a left-wing front group, as it means they can't sort through the cards and chuck out all the Republicans.

But if ACORN's goal is get new (liberal) voters out there, registration fraud doesn't help them. Federal ID is required for first time voters, so even if Micky Mouse is on the rolls, he's not going to show up at the polling place, ID in hand, and cast a ballot. There is, in fact, virtually no evidence that registration fraud spills over to voter fraud. The fraud here is being committed on ACORN, who has to pay its employees for bogus registrations that don't actually help their cause.


PG said...

I asked in a comment thread for someone to explain how registration fraud translated into voter fraud, given the requirements not only of first-time voters' having ID but also that if the same name and address is registered multiple times, it still can vote only once and then gets crossed off. A Republican said that ACORN would use the excessive voter registrations to claim that voter suppression must have occurred, because they would be able to claim that 10,000 voters had registered yet only 5,000 voted (while knowing that actually 3,000 of the "missing" voters were fraudulent registrations). I asked him to point to an instance in which ACORN or any other major organization had used low voter turnout as prima facie evidence of voter suppression, as in my experience such accusations usually had nothing to do with statistics and a great deal to do with claimed incidents of misleading flyers, black SUVs circling precincts, etc. He couldn't point to an instance in which lower voter turnout had been so used.

Again, all of these guys' fears are about the supposed *potential* for fraud, and they're lousy at playing out how it will actually occur on a sufficiently large scale to impact elections. At best, they can find ONE GUY -- Darnell Nash -- who committed voter fraud.

PG said...

Jack Shafer makes a good point -- was it really wise for McCain to say ACORN was "now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy," given that McCain was alive at a time when vigilantes, mobs, Klansman, and law officers killed hundreds and probably thousands of African-Americans who voted or otherwise attempted to exercise their civic rights? I would think more damage might have been done to the fabric of democracy when a significant percentage of voters couldn't vote for fear of their lives.