Is ACORN Stuffing the Ballot Box?

Monday, October 13, 2008

John Fund, Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Opinion Journal columnist, and the author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, argues voter fraud could have a significant impact on next month's election, while Lorraine Minnite, senior fellow in the Democracy program at Demos and co-author of Keeping Down the Black Vote, Race and the Demobilization of American Voters, argues the allegations against ACORN are part of a long-standing campaign that uses unfounded accusations of voter fraud to disenfranchise people of color.


John Fund and Lorraine Minnite

Comments [39]

Eden from Brooklyn

2008 is rigged! A co-worker of mine got a voter registration postcard in the mail in NJ and he's not a US citizen, he's a British citizen.

Oct. 16 2008 08:33 PM
Salim H. from Patterson, NJ

Obama's Acorn Tree

Oct. 15 2008 08:01 PM
Bob from Las Vegas

Over registration is cover for ballot box stuffing....why has nobody made this connection?

Take a precinct with 1500 registered voters...add 500 mickey mouses...1200 show up and vote...corrupt election workers add 500 ballots for their candidate....turnout would show 1700 out of 2000 voting...."good turnout"
they would call!! 500 votes stolen!!

Oct. 15 2008 06:23 AM
g. powell from manhattan

Sorry, 2nd sentence in last para should read: "I hope it does NOT repeat..."

Oct. 14 2008 12:35 PM
g. powell from manhattan

Two points are clear:
1. ACORN needs to do a better a job in its voter registration drives. It pays unqualified people to do it with the wrong motivations (money), resulting in problems.

2. Voter fraud is not a large problem in this country, voter supression is.

That said, Minnite was a horrible advocate for her side. She refused to admit any possibility of fault on ACORN's behavior. For the first time in my life, I agreed and sympathized with John Fund. That is a testament to the scale of Minnite's failure to make her own case.

Liberalism looks like it is making a comeback in this country. I hope it does repeat its past failures and those of the right by refusing to admit its own mistakes.

Oct. 14 2008 12:30 PM
David from Bushwick, Brooklyn

As many pointed out, neither one of those two sound remotely convincing.

Anybody on the left who has dealt with acorn -- there are a couple insightful comments above -- knows they are opportunist hacks, which generally means they are trying to get in bed with democrats. any funding they get is basically kickbacks from the dems (through foundations, etc, of course) for their efforts every 2 years.

OF COURSE their paid canvassers get over-zealous, and OF COURSE they're only working in neighborhoods that will vote democratic. but does it matter? probably not.

Oct. 14 2008 01:47 AM
Salim H. from Patterson, NJ

Lorraine Minnite is a pushy loudmouth lefty who kept on trying to shout down John Fund...

Sadly for her and the corrupt ACORN nuts she defends, she had no actual defense....just more obfuscation and hatred.

the transparent hypocrisy of lefty corruption is almost funny if it wouldn't be so serious

if Obama loses by a samll margin - there will be riots in the streets and the knee-jerk accusations of stolen elections etc....

Hope he loses by a big margin.

Oct. 13 2008 05:45 PM
Ginzberg from NY

Re: Fund, I'll just add that he has the whiny Republican tone of umbrage down pat. How dare you, sir! And of course, when you can't stand on facts, lawyer 'em to death.

Oct. 13 2008 01:53 PM
Rick Boyce from Chestnut Ridge, NY

When Mr. Fund of the WSJ criticizes anyone for ANTI-UNION ANYTHING, we see far right wing nonsense in full flower.

His lack of credibility is blatant, on this and most anything I've heard or read from him. And the hypocrisy of anyone from the WSJ criticizing abuse of labor is usually quite clear and insulting.

He's a hack.

Oct. 13 2008 12:23 PM
hjs from 11211

maybe if we had a modern & national system this would not be an issue

Oct. 13 2008 12:15 PM
Nicholas J. from Georgia


While there is all this focus on Acorn, there has been little attention given to Republican voter fraud right in Nevada. There have been numberous employees of the Republican Party who worked for the party who have come forth and stated that they were told they would be fired if they handed in any Democratic registrations.

When the first person came forth to blow the whistle on "Voters Outreach" a group that pays people to go out and register voters, just as Acorn does, the state Republican Party officials claimed that the person who came forth was a "disgruntled employee", however they have had more problems with this argument as others have come forth with the same claims that they were told:

"Just do whatever you want to with it. Dispose of it or bring it back here and we will dispose of it,"

This person actually witnessed Democratic reistrations being destroyed. Two others who have since come forth, did not see forms destroyed, but did report that they were told exactly what the first person said was told to them.

Because the various Republican "GOTV" groups do not operate under such an umbrella as Acorn does, they are not as easy a target as Acorn, but they also have a much easier job of getting away with voter fraud because there is no central authority to deal with.


Oct. 13 2008 12:09 PM

I am listening to the program right now, and I find Mr. Fund very aggravating to listen to. I think it is so telling that Mr. Fund at least twice listed felons voting as the penultimate danger of voter fraud. The worst thing that could happen is that some real people get to exercise one of their most vital rights after all? I find it hard to take seriously voter fraud claims when the worst case scenario is that some more citizens get to vote. It sounds like those who harp on voter fraud just don't want more or certain kinds of people to vote.

Oct. 13 2008 11:53 AM
Scott from Brooklyn

Fund is obnoxious and a bully talking over his guest and not being truthful about the facts. I am not an ACORN fanatic, but the real problem is continued Republican voter suppression of poor people, the working class and people of color. Brian, you did not do your usual great job of reigning in obnoxious guests.

Oct. 13 2008 11:49 AM
Joe Bogacz from NY

Very disgusted at your moderating!!
You have to shut people up who inturrupt in a debate.
You appear to have his position.

Be more forceful.

Oct. 13 2008 11:48 AM
Nicholas J. from Georgia

The problem lies on both sides. You rarely see the "League of Women Voters" or even local governments being questioned about voter fraud or voter suppression, but fraud on the part of this organization as well as the voters registration departments of many states have been in on suppressing voters.

For example the federal government has recently had to investigate several states this year. The one that stands out the most is Georgia,and to a lesser extent Alabama which has been actively going over the list of felons in the attempt to reduce the number of new voters. Primarily because they are largely black and are largely expected to vote for Obama.This does not just cause harm in the presidential elections, but in Georgia at all levels, the possibility of several Republican incumbents being unseated is more of a consideration than the presidential election.

The problem largely lies in the fact that from state to state, there are no consistant standards on what is required to remove a persons right to vote. This is more of a problem than what Acorn is not being accused of, and could be easily solved by creating such standards. No one should have their right to vote be removed except under the most extreme circumstances. Unfortunately this is not the case

Oct. 13 2008 11:45 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Once again the conservative spokesperson filibusters the conversation and accuses the other side of not allowing them to talk. So unsubstantiated accusations remain unaddressed. Again in this conversation, the pro-Acorn side is silenced while the anti-voter registration side has taken up twice as much air time.

Oct. 13 2008 11:45 AM
Peter from Flatbush, Brooklyn

#9 - take a look at this

I guess, like all things, its a state to state issue as to the specifics - but this is generally the case.

Oct. 13 2008 11:44 AM
doug from NYC

ACORN is a valuable and important organization. Mr. Fund, while presenting his opinion forcefully, has been unable to tarnish their reputation.

Oct. 13 2008 11:43 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

The US has about the lowest if not the lowest voter participation of any democracy. Instead of encouraging people to vote and making it easy to do so -- as it done in other western democracies -- we focus on the bogus issue of voter fraud. We all but criminalize the voter registration process -- making people fearful of the process. So far there has been little factual evidence that US elections are rampant with voter fraud.

Oct. 13 2008 11:43 AM
Julie from NYC

What about the 1992 story from the Chicago Sun Times that Obama ran their Project Vote program.....

Oct. 13 2008 11:41 AM
Noah from Brooklyn

Honestly I don't trust any of the voter registration people, whether payed or not payed. I grew up in NYC and when I turned 18 a group of young girls came up to myself and my friends and asked us if we would register to vote. All of us had recently turned 18 and were ready to do so. While filling out the registrations (with pen) the girls asked us to put down independent for party as they were working for Pataki. We all put down democrat. However a month later I and my friends whom had registered with me all got mailings from the independent party thanking us for registering with them. Now I don't trust any one whether payed or a volunteer.

Oct. 13 2008 11:40 AM
N from NYC

First - It's important not to try to sweep legitimate problems under the rug, it just makes progressives look bad; we should take this as an opportunity to turn this around and air this in the open in a broader context, and then we'll see which party is in fact supporting democratic (small d) access and participation

Second - what is a bigger problem, some bad registrations, or, systematic voter suppression and tampering by Republican operatives? Ohio, anyone? The presidential elections?

Third - this is a sneak attack by Republicans who are trying to expand on their campaign to make "community organizer" a smear word. Stay tuned for a lot more on this, folks!

Oct. 13 2008 11:40 AM

Brian, I blame the organizations and the quotas they impose on their workers to produce voter registrations. I worked in florida in 2004 canvasing, and ran into workers working for republicans that were actually paying workers for each registration they obtained and had workers approach me to trade, registrations of voters that registered as republican, for voter registrations that were registered as democrat. I could no believe they held on to registration and did not turn them in to the board of elections. The public should be aware ot this!

Oct. 13 2008 11:40 AM
Sarah from TX

I agree that if Acorn has made an important mistake, then something must be done to correct it. In the meantime, we are overwhelmed now by stories of Ohio Part Deux -- insufficient numbers of voting machines, skewed results -- and not just in Ohio. There is no question in my mind that the Republicans began an assault on free elections years ago. Also, it needs to be said, John Fund's credibility isn't all that great ...

Oct. 13 2008 11:39 AM
Mario from Washington Heights

No one detests ACORN more than leftists activist organizations who work on the same issues as they do. They routinely sell-out their constituents, such as by signing off on the Atlantic Yards community-benefits agreements which was opposed by the local community, and it permanently undermined the grassroots work going on there. This is one example among many. As for their paid workforce, which is often paid below the minimum wage because they are paid a few hundred dollars weekly for 80 hour weeks... yes they are under intense pressure to meet quotas, whether it's voter registration or getting people to sign up to become a 'member' of ACORN. Last point: ACORN tries to get its constituents to become 'members' by signing them up for bank-drafts. Then, 'members' are unable to cancel their memberships, and they keep on getting charged against their will. 'Organizers' are mostly responsible for signing up new members, and they are encouraged by their supervisors to lie to their potential sign-ups about services provided by ACORN, which are totally made up. The lies are told to you in the orientation.

Oct. 13 2008 11:38 AM
detv8 from nyc

john fund writing about voter fraud......any guesses as to whether he covers diebold and ohio. not a chance. these guys are trying anything to discredit minority voter registration. pat cadell, what a joke to call him a democrat. fox news shill.

Oct. 13 2008 11:37 AM

Brian, I blame the organization and the quotas they impose on their workers to produce voter registrations, I worked in florida in 2004 canvasing, and ran into workers working for republicans that were actually paying workers for each registration they obtained and had people approach me to trade registrations republican registration with them for democratic ones that i could no believe they were holding on too and not turning them in to the boeard of elections.

Oct. 13 2008 11:32 AM

I would disagree with Brian that ACORN is an anti-poverty group. In Brooklyn ACORN is anti-poor people/pro-billionaire developer. They have been working to take taxpayer money to give to Bruce Ratner in a project that would create "instant gentrification," in the word of Charles Barron, among others.

ACORN is interested in ACORN. There are better groups advocating for New York's poor and residents of public housing.

Oct. 13 2008 11:31 AM
Benjamin Gardner

This is a non-issue invented by a GOP fully aware that the new voters registered this year by ACORN are going to win the election for Barack Obama. They're already trying to lawyer their way out of a loss.

Oct. 13 2008 11:30 AM
Owen from Rochester

It seems like ACORN is giving its canvassers too much incentive to cut corners, by pressuring them to register as many people as possible. Still, I like ACORN's work and I can't stand the way some conservatives equate intentional voter suppression with (possibly accidental) voter fraud.

Oct. 13 2008 11:29 AM
Mike from NYC

"It's not voter fraud, unless they vote - if it's a registration issue, it's voter registration fraud. Just point that out."

First, I'm not sure that's true. It's illegal to fraudulently register. Otherwise, why the indictments? Why did Acorn fire the workers?

Second, by disrespecting the process it undermines both faith in Acorn and in the election.

Oct. 13 2008 11:27 AM

#4, right on.
if there is a problem, we need to address it, not just blame the other side.
the issue isn't whether we're more right than they are - the issue is maintaining our credibility, or what's left of it, before we become like the right.
Sorry, but if I had advocated half of the garbage the right has over the last 7.5 years, I would hang my head in shame... and own up to the mistakes.
So... owning up to mistakes is essential for political survival over the LONG TERM.

Oct. 13 2008 11:17 AM
Peter from Flatbush, Brooklyn

It's not voter fraud, unless they vote - if it's a registration issue, it's voter registration fraud. Just point that out.
If ACORN registers Mr. Mickey Mouse and Mickey Mouse comes out to vote its voter fraud, but Mr. Mouse would be committing the fraud, not ACORN. Assuming that there is no real Mickey Mouse in the district.

Oct. 13 2008 11:04 AM
Leo Queens from Queens

This is nothing but a campaign narrative by right wing extreme groups to undermine and repress voter participation. And if Obama wins they will continue with this racist narrative to undermine Obama's policies by claiming that the poor and minorities are responsible for the collapse of our economy. Republicans have always been trying to blame blacks for voter fraud. - Just look at the outrageous reports and programs aired by FOX News in the days BEFORE the Kerry/Bush election in 2004. they were making outrageous statements about blacks stuffing the ballot boxes in Ohio.
Can you ask your Right Wing RACIST guest to explain how minorities have been able to gain control of over 1 trillion dollars in US real estate and how poor blacks (not the other 2/3 which are middle to upper class)came up with the Credit Default Swaps and forced these investment banks to peddle them and to create 62 TRILLION Dollars of derivatives backed houses owned by minorities? -

Oct. 13 2008 10:44 AM
Mike from NYC

I agree that ACORN is being desperately scapegoated by the right wing media, but we can't turn a blind eye the voter registration scandal in the organization. A honorable institution could go down the tubes unless the problems are admitted and addressed. Denial and finger-pointing in the other direction won't help anything.

Oct. 13 2008 10:22 AM
Erin from Manhattan

The recent NY Times article on State level chaos resulting in blocked voter registration seems very real in comparison to these accusations of voter fraud. Would it be possible to address it in this segment or another?

Oct. 13 2008 10:21 AM
Peter from Flatbush, Brooklyn

The current meme tying ACORN to the sub-prime colapse and to voter fraud across the states is another sorry attempt to fear and smear the left and Obama and imply a undercurrent of leftwing responsabily for the collapse of the economy.
ACORN has been a pro-community advocate against preditory lending. The do good work for often powerless people, it is a shame that they have been so tarnished on a national stage.

Oct. 13 2008 10:11 AM
Raka Nuernberger from Brooklyn

It's amazing to me that ACORN is being investigated on voter fraud, while thousands of people have been purged from voter registration lists illegally very recently. What will happen to those people come election day? Where is the attention to that matter?

Oct. 13 2008 10:05 AM
Claire Cox from Manhattan

If you're presenting two opposing points of view on the ACORN issue, why do you say, in a preview, that ACORN is participating in voter fraud, as though it were a fact, not an accusation?

Oct. 13 2008 10:04 AM

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