Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ACORN better than Obama

The 2008 elections made me realize I've never been prouder that I worked for ACORN.

National media coverage hit rock bottom with Sen. McCain’s attacks on ACORN, the community organization that has been doing such excellent work together with Project Vote registering over a million low-income Americans in 21 states, who might not otherwise have been able to vote next month. An estimated 60-70 percent of these new voters are people of color, half of them under 30.

Less than 1 percent of these registrations are being challenged, some almost certainly unfairly - similar accusations in the past couple of elections turned out to be groundless, a partisan effort at outright vote suppression related to ‘US Attorneygate.’ Republicans pressured US Attorneys to find voter fraud where none existed, then fired them when they failed to toe the line.

Many voter registration forms are rejected because the people filling them out make minor errors that cause the form not to match other records. For example, someone helping Gan Hong might write his name as Hong Gan. But even the small percentage of fake registrations that do exist, e.g. Mr. Mickey Mouse, don’t equal fake votes. (Mickey has to show ID.)

Also, state laws usually require that ACORN turn in all the registration forms it collects, even if organizers suspect the forms are incorrect. ACORN routinely flags forms it finds suspicious, but officials often ignore this. Some of these officials - as in Nevada - have later decided to follow up by raising ACORN offices and seizing records, charging people with fraud, etc. Most of these officials have praised ACORN's efforts. But there has been a lot of pressure lately.

ACORN has fired employees caught faking forms, and cooperated with authorities investigating voter registration fraud (not mythical ‘voter fraud’). ACORN has never been charged with anything. The alleged ‘widespread voter fraud’ simply does not exist. Vote suppression does.
'Attorneygate' proved that again. At least one of the attorneys that Bush and Gonzales were trying to get rid of explained it pretty clearly: he investigated and found not one case of anyone voting fraudulently as a result of supposedly fraudulent voter registration. Same is true of the ACORN cases. In fact the McCain campaign and the media feeding frenzy failed to turn up a single case of fraudulent voting linked to fraudulent voter registration forms. That's because there aren't any.

But when the media-beloved 'Help America Vote Act' (HAVA) was used this year to strike thousands of legitimate voters from the rolls, that wasn't such big news.

It's nothing new, of course, but the vote suppression in the past was not restricted to Jim Crow laws. US Supreme Court Justice Wm. Rehnquist had a job in the 60's finding 'legal' ways to knock black voters off the rolls.

Most news outlets have done nothing to clear up these distortions - just the reverse - which are far more serious than one of their favored subjects: ‘negative campaigning’. And Sen. Obama’s campaign didn’t do much better, washing his hands of this commendable community organization in the last month or so of his messianic campaign.

Obama should be ashamed. The demographic groups that put him over the top in several states were the very demographic groups that ACORN was registering, and the same groups that ACORN organizes six days a week to fight corrupt or negligent police and other public officials, greedy or negligent landlords, and employers who don't respect the rights of workers. They are fighting the good fight, and the fact that some GOP lackey wants Bush to block federal grants that benefit ACORN (again legitimately) is, in the words of one New York City Councilmember, "a badge of honor."

The irony is, ACORN deserves our support and money much more than Obama ever did.

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