Accuracy in Media

Will the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) steal the 2008 election for Barack Obama?
Investigations into ACORN’s voter registration efforts have spread
across the nation, with the Associated Press reporting that an FBI
investigation of the group is underway. But according to an October
19th Rasmussen poll only 36% of those surveyed believed that Obama has ties to ACORN, while 29% were “not sure.”

In contrast, the poll found that those people “who say they are
following news stories about ACORN very closely, believe that the group
is deliberately registering illegal voters and that Obama or his
campaign is affiliated with it exceed 60%.”

Barack Obama has denied any recent connection with ACORN. “Apparently
what [ACORN has] done is they were paying people to go out and register
folks, and apparently some of the people who were out there didn’t
really register people, they just filled out a bunch of names,” Obama
said during the last presidential debate.

“It had nothing to do with us. We were not involved. The only
involvement I’ve had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the
U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law
that helped people get registered at DMVs.”

Obama also gave more than $800,000 to Citizen Services Inc., an ACORN
subsidiary, for “get out the vote” activities during the Democratic
primary, a fact the candidate initially tried to conceal.

Obama’s “Fight the Smears” website claims that “ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration Barack ran in 1992.”

“Now ACORN says ‘we only had him for two conferences, for one hour
each,’ but that’s not what contemporary newspaper accounts at the time
say,” commented John Fund, author of Stealing Elections, at Heritage last Monday. He said that Project Vote and ACORN were affiliated at the time, a relationship which grew into a full partnership.

Fund is a leading expert on voter fraud in the United States. His book,
published in 2004 and updated for the 2008 election, chronicles voter
fraud and voter suppression perpetrated by both sides of the aisle.

Not Really Fraud?

The message promoted by the mainstream media over the last couple weeks
has been that if voter registration fraud is occurring, it is not
likely to result in fraudulent votes.

“McCain is correct that at least a handful of ACORN canvassers are
currently being investigated across the country by local officials on
suspicion of submitting false registration cards…But in alleging
voter fraud, McCain goes too far,” wrote the Associated Press on October 16. “To commit fraud, a person would
have to show up on Election Day with identification bearing the fake

“A lot of people say that the voter registration fraud that we have
seen isn’t really voter fraud. Well, yes that’s true technically,” said
Fund at Heritage. “But I believe this is like an iceberg. Remember, an
iceberg is one tenth above the surface and nine tenths below the
surface.” Fund reminded the audience that since Americans use an
anonymous ballot system, it is hard to measure voter fraud and “we have
examples of voter registration fraud people actually casting ballots”
such as Darnell Nash in Ohio.

In an October 22 story, New York Times writer Stephanie Strom actually contradicts her previous article in order to minimize the
association between Obama and an arguably corrupt ACORN. She now
characterizes the ACORN investigation as a partisan attempt to
discredit Obama.

“Republicans have tried to make an issue of Senator Barack Obama’s ties
to the group, which he represented in a lawsuit in 1995,” wrote Strom.
“The Obama campaign has denied any connection with ACORN’s voter
registration drives.” Strom then goes on to cover Elizabeth Kingsley’s
internal ACORN report, which raises questions about whether the group
violated federal laws.

Similarly, the AP article merely quotes Obama’s denial of a connection
between him and ACORN’s voter registration efforts, without checking
the facts. This for an article titled “Fact Check: GOP Vitriol Rages
over ACORN.”

“I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career.” These words, spoken by Obama himself, were reported on February 21 by the blogger and “on leave” Nation freelancer, Sam Graham-Felson.

The November statement by Obama, in its entirety, reads:

“I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That’s what I did
for three and half years before I went to law school. That’s the reason
I moved to Chicago was to organize. So this is something that I know
personally, the work you do, the importance of it. I’ve been fighting
alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before
I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration
drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we
appreciate your work.”

The first four sentences can be found in a cached version of an ACORN e-newsletter, as well as on Graham-Felson’s blog. The
second half of the quote was corroborated by the New York Post and,
ironically, the last sentence was quoted by Stephanie Strom herself in
an article for The Times just 11 days earlier.
Not only is it misleading for Strom to claim that the Obama campaign has “denied any connection with ACORN’s voter registration drives” if Obama himself has
said that ACORN was “smack dab in the middle of” such efforts, but
ACORN itself has acknowledged a long-standing relationship between
Obama and themselves.

The cached version of ACORN’s February 21st e-newsletter also states the following:

“Obama continued to work with ACORN after he was elected to state office in Illinois and then to the U.S. Senate.”

ACORN’s allegations about Republican “voter suppression” tactics
maintain that the ACORN vets its own registration efforts and that
investigations mask an attempt to disenfranchise minorities. The group
released a Youtube video in conjunction with Brave New Films on October
20th to combat what they call the “concocted Republican issues of voter
fraud and the Republican coordinated attempts at voter suppression.”
The group claims that allegations of fraud constitute a concerted
Republican strategy to suppress voter turnout in the 2008 election.
“These attacks on ACORN are part of a pattern of voter suppression that
the GOP has been carrying on for a long time,” says ACORN board member Carmen Arias in the video.

“I’ve watched ACORN for a while,” said Fund at Heritage. “In 2002 they
had voter registration scandals, in 2004 they had voter registration
scandals, in 2006 ACORN employees were indicted and convicted in Kansas
City and St. Louis. And in Seattle, seven ACORN employees were indicted
in the largest voter registration scheme in the state’s history.”

“After each of these instances, ACORN says ‘we’re going to clean up our
act, we’re going to impose quality control programs.’ They never seem
to get around to doing it,” he said.

ACORN’s video uses a clip of Andrew Sullivan speaking on the Chris Matthews show. Sullivan says in the clip that part of the Republican
“post-election warfare” strategy is “the ACORN strategy, which is
trying to delegitimize the result in advance, if Obama were to win, by
saying it was rigged by minority voters—that’s what this is about.”

According to Fund, members from both campaigns are waiting with bated
breath to contest this year’s election results. “I fear that if this
election is close, we are going to have the thousands of lawyers that
have volunteered for Barack Obama and the thousands of lawyers who have
volunteered for John McCain watching like a hawk for any possible
reason or even excuse to file a lawsuit, to demand a recount, to engage
in endless recriminations about what happened on election day…,” he

“You no longer have to win by a margin of victory, you have to win by a
margin of victory beyond the margin of litigation,” he argued. So far,
Obama’s legal eagles may outnumber McCain’s by as much as three to one.
“Voter registration fraud is also a problem because some groups seem to
have developed a habit of dumping an enormous number of registrations,
both valid and invalid, on overworked election officials at the last
possible minute,” said Fund. “What that means, effectively, is the
overworked officials often don’t process them all fully or completely
or accurately.”

One such area might be Lake County, Indiana. A CNN special investigation found that ACORN had submitted 5,000 voter registration forms to Lake
County officials before the October 6th deadline. About 2,100 were
unusable. “We have no idea what the motive behind it is, it’s just
overwhelming to us,” election board administrator Ruth Ann Hoagland (R) told CNN.

According to Fund, such dumping causes “electoral chaos,” and by
overworking the local staff allows voter fraud to creep in around the
edges of the system. “So voter registration fraud can overburden the
system leading to unintended consequences and a cascading series of
other mistakes.”

But could there be another reason for inflating the “registration” rolls? Roger Aronoff wrote in an Accuracy in Media special report that “polls are often fraudulent and biased, with a clear agenda to
help create a sense of inevitability for an Obama victory, and a sense
of despair for the McCain side. And they can become self-fulfilling.”

Similarly, news outlets have been using high registration rates in
Democrat-favored areas as a barometer for both candidate’s chances of

On Friday, October 24, the New York Times reported that ACORN’s 1.3
million new voters actually amounted to little more 450,000 new
registrations, according to statistics released by Project Vote’s
executive director Michael Slater.

Reporters Michael Falcone and Michael Moss write that 400,000 registrations “were rejected by election officials
for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete
forms and fraudulent submissions from low-paid field workers trying to
please their supervisors.” This leaves roughly 450,000 registrations
which were simply changes of address.

This did not, however, keep news outlets from repeatedly touting how new registrations favored Obama in the weeks between ACORN’s October 6th announcement and the present day.

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