- With only days to go before the presidential election, Senator Barack
Obama has increased his lead over Sen. McCain, according to most polls
and pundits. Subsequently, the GOP has again turned to suppressing the
By questioning the registration practices of
community organizations, like the Association of Community
Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), much of the national debate has
focused, critically, on voter registration applications accepted in
Black and Latino neighborhoods across America.
mischaracterizations and factual omissions characterize the assault,
pushing ACORN into overtime to set the record straight about the
registration process and its historic effort to increase voter
Over the past year, ACORN has registered over 1.3 million voters whom are mostly Black and from urban regions.
every application will be valid. In almost every case, ACORN has
already identified those cards as suspicious," David Lagstein, head
organizer for Michigan ACORN, told the Michigan Citizen. "We actually
flag and tag any card that is incomplete or suspicious."
major media has spent ample air time describing the fraudulent
applications received by ACORN representatives without mentioning
critical information regarding those few cases. At the same time, the
Republicans have launched a national campaign to purge registration
records in battleground states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.
now infamous Mickey Mouse, Jimmy Johns and Tony Romo registration
examples being flaunted on the airwaves were all actually first brought
to light by ACORN workers themselves.
Also, ACORN, like any
third party voter registration drive, cannot legally throw away any
voter registration cards. It flags suspicious cards and submits them to
the appropriate state election authorities who make the final judgment.
D. Jackson, national communications director for ACORN, explained to
the Michigan Citizen that ACORN personnel call all voter registration
applicants to confirm information and if persons can't be reached,
separate stacks are labeled questionable or incomplete.
due diligence - we turn in cards and they have a process to verify
individuals," Jackson says. "The possibility of Mickey Mouse or Donald
Duck being able to vote is nil."
"This has been a coordinated
strategy to attack ACORN as a way to discredit and rid of new and
minority voters from the campaign," Lagstein continues. "Anyone who
looks at the facts will see that it doesn't make sense.
But the tide is slowly turning as ACORN and voting rights advocates attempt to squeeze into the debate.
New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, a Republican who was appointed
by President George W. Bush, has spoken recently about the directions
he received from the U.S. Justice Department during the legislative
elections of 2006 - to go after ACORN for voter registration fraud. He
and other U.S Attorneys were summarily dismissed after finding no
evidence of fraud and refusing to prosecute trumped up charges.
addition, strong statements supporting ACORN by members of the
Congressional Black Caucus, the AFL-CIO, and national voting rights
advocates like Robert Kennedy, Jr., have brought some balance to the
A delegation of U.S. Congressmen and women, including
Rep. John Conyers, have sponsored a written plea, dated Oct. 20, to
Attorney General Michael Mukasky and F.B.I. Director Robert M. Mueller
reprimanding the, "escalation of attacks on ACORN and others seeking to
register and turn out voters."
The letter details recent
evidence of intimidation against ACORN staffers that may amount to
"possible federal crimes such as criminal civil rights crimes including
conspiracy to deprive the victims (and others) of federally protected
constitutional rights, mail and wire offenses, and other more basic
offenses such as assault and battery."
"Our message is getting out there and is resounding," says Jackson.
in Michigan, Attorney Mike Cox has levied six forgery charges against a
former ACORN employee, Antonio Johnson of Jackson, Michigan, who is
currently incarcerated on an unrelated parole violation.
Lagstein says the Attorney General's action may be appropriate and that
ACORN has attempted to cooperate with the Attorney General's office.
But Lagstein adds that the timing is what is troubling. The forged
cards in question were submitted to the City of Jackson Clerk's Office
in May and June. Cox requested the forgery information in September,
according to a press release. But the Attorney General's announcement
describing the charges occurred in October, on the same day Sen. John
McCain held a press conference admonishing ACORN.
Unclear is if
those forged applications were already flagged by ACORN and if City of
Jackson Clerk, Lynn Fessel, has requested the assistance of the Jackson
Police Department on any other investigations involving registration
applications. Johnson, 23, has been charged with six counts of forgery
and faces up to 14 years for each count.
Attorney General media contact, John Sellek, was unavailable for comment.