Friday, October 17, 2008

Not Just Acorns In The Nuthouse

[UPDATE]: via Atrios:

Did someone mention nuts?
An ACORN community organizer received a death threat and the liberal activist group's Boston and Seattle offices were vandalized Thursday, reflecting mounting tensions over its role in registering 1.3 million mostly poor and minority Americans to vote next month.

It's time to call McCain-Palin on the hate speech they're spreading at their rallies and with their bogus robo-calls. Seriously, the nuts are getting out of control. Someone is going to get hurt, all because John McCain really wants to win an election.



There’s been a lot dishonest about this election season, but the McCain campaign’s attacks on Acorn have been pretty egregious. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that the idea is to plant seeds of illegitimacy over Barack Obama’s campaign, in case the count is close on election day, or Obama pulls out a win. And what better way to do that than by attacking a group that registers poor and minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic?

It’s dishonest because it preys on stereotypes about Chicago Democrats (“where the dead always vote”) and the public’s ignorance about voter registration fraud versus vote fraud. It’s hypocritical because it attacks an organization McCain supported two years ago. And it’s clearly designed to prevent Acorn and similar groups from doing what they were created to do, which is to register low income and minority voters.

In other words, it’s just another Republican Party voter suppression tactic.

As the New York Times editorialized today:

Based on the information that has come to light so far, the charges appear to be wildly overblown — and intended to hobble Acorn’s efforts.

The group concedes that some of its hired canvassers have turned in tainted forms, although they say the ones with phony names constitute no more than 1 percent of the total turned in. The group also says it reviews all of the registration forms that come in. Before delivering the forms to elections offices, its supervisors flag any that appear to have problems.

According to Acorn, most of the forms that are now causing controversy are ones that it flagged and that unsympathetic election officials then publicized.

No one could have anticipated that! Because what the McCain campaign isn’t telling you is that in many states, those registering voters are not allowed to determine the legitimacy of a voter's name. Someone might have legally changed their name to Mickey Mouse--hey, it's possible. Did you know there’s a guy in Nashville who attends every Metro Council meeting whose legal name is Elvis Presley Jr.? It’s true; I've met him. I don’t know if he’s a Democrat or a Republican but I do know it would be illegal for me to register him to vote and then toss his registration in the trash because I decided Elvis Presley Jr. couldn’t possibly be his real name.

So Acorn separated out some questionable registration forms for election officials to review, and GOP operatives smeared the Obama campaign with it, when the organization was only doing what it was supposed to do.

Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.

Furthermore, the fraud was perpetrated on Acorn. They paid a canvasser to register legitimate voters, and instead got handed garbage.

And then there’s this:

But for all of the McCain campaign’s manufactured fury about vote theft (and similar claims from the Republican Party over the years) there is virtually no evidence — anywhere in the country, going back many elections — of people showing up at the polls and voting when they are not entitled to.

In other words, Mickey Mouse and Snow White did not actually show up to vote.

Voter suppression is a tried-and-true Republican tactic. Every election the Republican Party tries to deny voters their right to cast a ballot. The Supreme Court just struck down the Ohio GOP’s latest attempt today.

Four years ago I witnessed some of the most outrageous attempts at voter suppression right here in Davidson County. Voting precincts in urban neighborhoods with only two working voting machines. Poll workers demanding voters declare their party affiliation, even though this was the general election, not a primary. Voters told to go home for wearing campaign buttons (they should have been asked to remove the gear instead).

As the New York Times noted today:

The real threats to the fabric of democracy are the unreasonable barriers that stand in the way of eligible voters casting ballots.

I couldn’t agree more.