Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ACORN and voter fraud

Thanks to John Fund, Fox, and the McCain campaign, ACORN has become associated with voter fraud in our national consciousness. As the argument goes, Obama has nefarious historical links with ACORN, and ACORN has been involved in voter fraud in numerous states (read: it tries to steal elections for Democrats). What's the inference you're supposed to make? If McCain loses, it's because Obama has stolen the election.

TPM's Josh Marshall has a good article debunking that connection.

Basically, ACORN hires people to register voters. Some of those employees then register fictitious people, or the same people numerous times, so they can get money from ACORN. When ACORN finds out, it alerts federal investigators, who prosecute the employees.

Here's the key: The fraud is by employees against ACORN, not by ACORN. And the fraud is registering fake voters, not actually having fake people vote. There are clear, solid protections against having fake people actually vote (a handful of people might be able to do this, but it's almost impossible to carry out a massive coordinated effort). So, you could certainly argue that ACORN could come up with better ways to register voters. But, given the evidence to date, this is not some kind of threat to democracy that can "steal elections."

UPDATE: Obama addressed this "distraction" yesterday as well. And note the punchline: Republicans often drum up spurious fears of voter fraud in order to enact laws that suppress minority and low-income turnout on election day. Pretty clever, really.

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