Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another Bogeyman Of The Right

Like Cadillac driving welfare queens, gays taking over the world, and The War On Christmas, ACORN has become the latest bogeyman produced by the right. These people are masters of the craft: find a seed of something real but relatively insignificant and blow it completely out of proportion to manufacture outrage and create a politically convenient [trap, wedge, movement].

I don't understand why people continue to fall for it. Sure, you can dislike ACORN for a variety of reasons (I personally find the idea of paying for voter registration insulting -- we should not have to entice people to perform their civic duty). But come on... ACORN is not a huge threat to democracy or anything else.

Why can't people see through ploy this by now?

But McCain's voter fraud worries – about Acorn or anyone else – are unsupported by the facts, said experts on election fraud, who recall similar concerns being raised in several previous elections, despite a near-total absence of cases.

"There's no evidence that any of these invalid registrations lead to any invalid votes," said David Becker, project director of the "Make Voting Work" initiative for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Becker should know: he was a lawyer for the Bush administration until 2005, in the Justice Department's voting rights section, which was part of the administration's aggressive anti-vote-fraud effort.

"The Justice Department really made prosecution of voter fraud of this sort a big priority in the first half of this decade, and they really didn't come up with anything," he said.

"We're chasing these ghosts of voter fraud, like chickens without a head," said Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Barnard College in New York who has researched voter fraud and fraud claims for most of the past decade. "I think it's completely overblown, I think it's meant to be a distraction."

"This stuff does not threaten the outcome of the election," said Minnite. "How many illegal ballots have been cast by people who are fraudulently registered to vote? By my count, it's zero. I just don't know of any, I've been looking for years for this stuff."


Even the non-partisan truth-in-politics Web site called foul on McCain's alleged possible conspiracy, noting that a Republican prosecutor handling a key Acorn registration fraud case has said there's no evidence indicating the group was involved in vote fraud.

"This scheme was not intended to permit illegal voting," said King County, Wash. Prosecutor Dan Satterberg in a 2007 statement, after a federal-state investigation found seven Acorn workers had submitted over 1,700 bogus voter registration forms.


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