Last week during the third presidential debate, John McCain said that the community-based organization ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history … maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” The McCain campaign has also used Senator Obama’s relationship to ACORN in a recent political ad in an attempt to connect the Democratic candidate with voter fraud.
The Annenberg Political Fact Check provides some good analysis of these claims from the GOP:
“It’s true that the voter registration wing of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now has run into trouble in several states. ACORN employees have been investigated and in some cases indicted for voter registration fraud. Most recently, more than 2,000 registrations in Lake County, Ind., have turned out to be falsified.
But does this constitute “destroying the fabric of democracy”? More like destroying the fabric of work ethic. There’s been no evidence that the ACORN employees who submitted fraudulent forms have been paving the way for illegal voting. Rather, they’re trying to get paid for doing no work.”
Even a Republican attorney, in the largest investigation of ACORN to date (2007), said that while there were abuses by those paid to register people to vote, there was no evidence of a “scheme to permit illegal voting.”
According to ACORN, the community-based organization has registered 1.3 million new voters for this election cycle in 21 different states. ACORN has also responded to claims made by the Republicans around voter fraud by pointing out that the majority of bogus voter registrations were discovered by their staff and pointed out to the election authorities. The law requires that they turn in all voter registration forms, but ACORN spent a significant amount of time separating “suspicious” forms before turning them into election officials. ACORN is claiming that they are not responsible for those they hire who decide to fill out bogus forms. Instead, they say they are only responsible for hiring and training people to conduct the voter registration efforts.
In Michigan, concerns of voter fraud are being raised by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, although they are looking at issues other than the ACORN controversy (it is worth noting that Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is investigating an ACORN-related fraud case).
In a press release sent out by the Commission on October 1, it states there has been misleading information sent out by some City and County Clerks. Announcements have been made in some local publications telling voters that they must come to the polls with a photo ID. This, according to the Civil Rights Commission, simply isn’t true. Voters can sign an affidavit saying affirming their identity and can vote without an ID. The Commission states that 370,000 Michigan residents have no form of photo identification. “If even one voter stays home on Election Day because they have been instructed they cannot vote unless they bring a photo ID, it will be a horrible deprivation of that individual’s right to participate,” said Linda Parker, head of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.