Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Truth About ACORN - Don’t Let The Right-Wing Noise Machine Get Away With It

How Bogus "Voter Fraud" Charges Aim to Camoflauge Voter Suppression
ACORN has just completed the largest, most successful nonpartisan voter registration drive in US history. We helped 1.3 million low-income, minority and young voters across the country register to vote.Unfortunately, just as in 2006, that success in bringing people into the democratic process, have been greeted with unfounded accusations to disparage our work and help maintain the status quo of an unbalanced electorate.

After a similar spate of charges against ACORN in 2006, we learned that then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had fired Republican US Attorneys because they refused to prosecute ACORN and other voter assistance groups on trumped up fraud charges. This was the heart of the US Attorney-gate scandal that led Karl Rove, Gonzales and other top Department of Justice officials to resign. Because the press didn't catch on until long after the election, it was part of a successful strategy to create an unfounded specter of voter fraud and to suppress voting.

Key Facts:
  1. In order to help 1.3 million people register to vote, we hired more than 13,000 registration assistance workers. As with any business or agency that operates at this scale, there are always some people who want to get paid without really doing the job, or who aim to defraud their employer. Any large department store will have some workers who shoplift.

  2. Any large voter registration operation will have a small percentage of workers who turn in bogus registration forms. Their goal clearly is not to cast a fraudulent vote. It is simply to defraud their employer, ACORN, by getting a paycheck without earning it. ACORN is the victim of this fraud – not the perpetrator.

  3. In nearly every case that has been reported , it was ACORN that discovered the bad forms, and called them to the attention of election authorities, putting the forms in a package that identified them in writing as suspicious, encouraging election officials to investigate, and offering to help with prosecutions. We are required by law to turn in all forms, but instead of just turning them in and figuring that it is the responsibility of the board of elections to figure out which are valid, we spend millions of dollars verifying that forms are valid, and then separate out those that are suspicious.

  4. This has nothing to do with "voter fraud" – nothing at all to do with anyone trying to cast an extra vote. There has never been a single reported instance in which bogus registration forms have led to anyone voting improperly. To do that, they would have to show up at the polls, prove their identity as all first-time registrants must, and risk jail. The people who turned in these forms did so not because they wanted an extra vote, but because they didn't care enough to make sure eligible people got to vote at all.

  5. When a department store calls the police to report a shoplifting employee, no one says the department store is guilty of consumer fraud. But for some reason, when ACORN turns voter registration workers over to the authorities for filling out bogus forms, it gets accused of "voter fraud." This is a classic case of blaming the victim; indeed, these charges are outrageous, libelous, and often politically motivated.

  6. Similar attacks were launched against ACORN and other voter registration organizations in 2004 and 2006. The bogus charges were at the heart of the U.S. Attorney-gate scandal that led to the resignations of Karl Rove, Attorney General Ablerto Gonzales and other top Justice Department Officials. It turned out that it was the charges that were fraudulent, and that they were part of a systematic partisan agenda of voter suppression.

    1. Republican former US Attorney in New Mexico, David Iglesias said he was fired because he refused White House pressure to charge ACORN with voter fraud he knew it had not committed.

    2. US attorney, Bradley Schlozman, who did politicize prosecutions against former ACORN canvassers was forced to acknowledge under cross examination by the Senate Judiciary Committee that ACORN was the victim of fraud by its employees and ACORN had caught the employees and had identified them to law enforcement.

  7. The goals of the people orchestrating these attacks are to distract ACORN from helping people vote and to justify massive voter suppression. That's the real voter fraud; the noise about a small fraction of the forms ACORN has turned in is meant to get the press and public take their eyes off the real threat, while those hurling the charges are stealing people's right to vote in broad daylight. They have already tried to prevent Ohio from registering voters at its early voting sites. In Michigan, they planned to use foreclosure notices to challenge thousands of voters. In Indiana, Republican officials have gone to court to try to block early voting in Lake County, Indiana And if this year is like past years, they are preparing to use this so-called voter fraud to justify massive challenges to voters in minority precincts on Election Day

The Details:

Fact: ACORN has implemented the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field but in almost every state we are required to turn in ALL completed applications, even the ones we know to be problematic.

Fact: ACORN flags in writing incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards when we turn them in,. Unfortunately, some of these same officials then come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in phony cards. In many cases, we can actually prove that these are the same cards we called to their attention.

Fact: Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card. ACORN has a zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in the cases where our internal quality controls have identified this happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to election officials and law-enforcement.

Fact: No criminal charges related to voter registration have ever been brought against ACORN or partner organizations. Convictions against individual former ACORN workers have been accomplished with our full cooperation, using the evidence obtained through our quality control and verification processes — evidence which in most cases WE called to the attention of authorities

Fact: Most election officials have recognized ACORN's good work and praised our quality control systems. Even in the cities where election officials have complained about ACORN, the applications in question represent less than 1% of the thousands and thousands of registrations ACORN has collected.

Fact: Our accusers not only fail to provide any evidence, they fail to suggest a motive: there is virtually no chance anyone would be able to vote fraudulently, so there is no reason to deliberately submit phony registrations. ACORN is committed to ensuring that the greatest possible numbers of people are registered

ACORN will not be intimidated and in this important moment in history we will not allow anyone to distract us from these vital efforts to empower our constituencies and our communities to speak for themselves.

The Relationship Between Barack Obama And ACORN

Barack Obama never organized with or worked for ACORN. In Chicago he was a community organizer for a completely different organization, as described in detail in his memoir.

Was Obama a trainer for ACORN?
In the early 1990's, Obama accepted two invitations to be an unpaid guest speaker at trainings for volunteer community leaders organized by Chicago ACORN. He never worked for ACORN.

Was Obama ACORN's lawyer?
After law school Obama joined a civil rights law firm in Chicago and was one of the attorneys there who successfully represented a coalition of groups including ACORN in a legal case that won better enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act in Illinois.

Were Obama and Project Vote and ACORN connected?
In 1992, Obama ran a successful voter registration drive in Chicago for Project Vote which helped 150,000 people register to vote. At that time, Project Vote had no more connection to ACORN than it did with dozens of other national and local organizations with which it partnered on local registration drives. In 1994, over a year after Obama left Project Vote, ACORN and Project Vote began working much more closely together.

Has the Obama campaign or the Democratic Party paid ACORN to register voters during this campaign?

Obama For America did contract with a political consulting group called Citizens' Services, Inc. for Get Out The Vote work in early 2008 for over $800,000. A small amount of this money was subcontracted to ACORN for recruitment and training of canvassers.

Did ACORN do campaign work for Obama in the primaries?
Obama for America contracted with Citizens' Services Inc., a national non-profit political consulting firm, for GOTV field services during the primaries. Citizens Services Inc. performs these same services under contract to a variety of candidates and ballot measure campaigns, labor unions and public interest organizations. CSI did sub-contract with some ACORN staff for a short period to help supervise door-to-door canvassing in this program, but this was a fairly small expenditure in the overall contract.

In 2008:
Because of Obama's record of working for positive change that helps working families, ACORN Votes, a federal PAC made up of ACORN leaders, endorsed Obama's candidacy for President. However, ACORN's successful effort to help 1.3 million people apply to become registered voters was a non-partisan effort to engage underrepresented voters and bring them into our democracy. Our voter registration organizers don't campaign for anyone as we help them complete registration applications.

Demand an end to the smears!
Ever since right-wing conservatives got wind of ACORN's record-setting voter registration drive, their attempts to discredit the work and create an atmosphere of chaos and intimidation have multiplied daily against the organization. Rather than compete for the votes of these new voters, they have resorted to lies and smears to distract voters from the serious issues facing the United States as Election Day draws near.

Unfortunately, they have been aided in their attacks by "journalists" and "news" hosts like CNN's investigative reporter Drew Griffin and Lou Dobbs. You can take action here by signing the petition letting Griffin and Dobbs know how you feel.

It is every American's right to vote regardless of income, race, sexual preference, favorite flavor of ice cream, where you live, whether you rent or own, etc. In a true representative democracy, the more people that vote, the more fair the representation.

Every vote matters, exercise your right on November 4th,
no matter how long the lines, regardless if you have to vote on a provisional ballot, or absentee ballot.

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