ACORN and voter registration fraud

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Voter registration drives conducted by ACORN and affiliated entities have led to controversy and allegations of vote fraud.

The organization has been accused of different types of misbehavior with regard to voter registration drives:

  • Failing to adequately monitor and supervise its employees to the point where the organization should be held responsible for what the employees did.
  • Turning in "massive numbers" of duplicate registration cards.
  • Turning in registration cards for fictional characters.
  • Turning in registration cards filled out by children.
  • Turning in registration cards where the signatures had been forged.

Timeline

2009

  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Latoya Lewis pled guilty on October 12, 2009 on charges of voter registration fraud. Lewis, who was working for ACORN when she committed the acts in 2008 that led to her guilty plea, said she was trying to "meet her quota as a paid registrar."[1]

2008

  • In Orange County, Florida, ACORN staffers submitted multiple, duplicate registrations on behalf of six separate voters over this summer. One individual had 21 duplicate applications. Election Supervisor Bill Cowles and his staff protested, noting in a June memo that ACORN had been submitting sloppy forms as well.[2]
  • In Lake County, Indiana, election officials discovered "dozens of ACORN-delivered registration forms they believe contain inaccurate voter information, including one in which a dead man from Gary was listed as the applicant." The applications were not processed.[4]
  • In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sean Cairncross, the Republican Party's chief lawyer said that ACORN is "engaged in systematic fraud and attempts to undermine our electoral system." This was in the wake of a report that had hired at least seven felons as voter registration workers in the city. As of early October, Milwaukee election officials have referred to the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office 49 cases of people who submitted potentially fraudulent registration cards.[5]
  • An ACORN employee in West Reading, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to up to 23 months in prison for identity theft and tampering with records. A second ACORN worker pleaded not guilty to the same charges and is free on $10,000 bail.[6]

2007

  • In Washington, five Washington state ACORN workers were sentenced to jail time.[7] ACORN agreed to pay King County $25,000 for its investigative costs and acknowledged that the national organization could be subject to criminal prosecution if fraud occurs again. According to King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, the misconduct was done "as an easy way to get paid [by ACORN], not as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections."[8][9]
  • In Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Claudel Gilbert was indicted on two felony counts of illegal voting and false registration, after being registered by ACORN to vote in two separate counties. He pled guilty to the illegal voting charges, his lawyer claiming voter confusion rather than criminal intent. The charges of false registration were dropped by the Franklin County prosecutor's office. Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Frye sentenced Gilbert to probation for one year and fined him $500 but suspended a six-month prison sentence[10]
  • In Missouri, four ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City for charges including identity theft and filing false registrations during the 2006 election.

2006

  • On November 1, 2006, four part-time ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City, Missouri for voter registration fraud. Prosecutors said the indictments are part of a national investigation.[11] ACORN said in a press release that it is in part responsible in these individuals being caught, fired them, and cooperated and publicly supported efforts to look into the validity of the allegations.[12]
  • ACORN was investigated in 2006 for submitting false voter registrations in St. Louis, Missouri. 1,492 fraudulent voter registrations were identified.[13][14]
  • The Richland County (South Carolina) Voter Registration Office in October 2006 heard from a person who had received a new voter registration card without applying for it. On investigation, the office discovered the application had been turned in by an ACORN worker. The State Law Enforcement Division investigated the situation. They discovered that ACORN had recruited four Benedict College students to register new voters. The group's political advisor found some had questionable entries, eventually firing all four workers. Two of the students were charged with election law violations for false swearing in applying for registration. In 2009, the case was settled and no penalties that may have been assessed against the students, who were minors at the time of the irregularities, were announced in public.[15]

2005

  • In Colorado in January 2005, two Colorado ACORN workers were sentenced to community service for submitting false voter registrations.[16] ACORN's regional director said, "we find it abhorrent and do everything we can to prevent it from happening."[17]
  • In Virginia, the State Board of Elections admonished Project Vote and ACORN for turning in a significant number of faulty voter registrations. An audit revealed that 83% of sampled registrations that were rejected for carrying false or questionable information were submitted by Project Vote. Many of these registrations carried social security numbers that exist for other people, listed non-existent or commercial addresses, or were for convicted felons in violation of state and federal election law. In a letter to ACORN, the State Board of Elections reported that 56% of the voter registration applications ACORN turned in were ineligible. Further, a full 35% were not submitted in a timely manner, as required by law. The State Board of Elections also commented on what appeared to be evidence of intentional voter fraud. "Additionally,” they wrote, “information appears to have been altered on some applications where information given by the applicant in one color ink has been scratched through and re-entered in another color ink. Any alteration of a voter registration application is a Class 5 Felony in accordance with § 24.2-1009 of the Code of Virginia."

2004

  • In Ohio in 2004, four ACORN employees were indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms.[18]
  • In Texas, ACORN turned in the voter registration form of David Young, who told reporters “The signature is not my signature. It’s not even close.” His social security number and date of birth were also incorrect.
  • In Pennsylvania, the director of elections in Reading reported receiving calls from numerous individuals complaining that ACORN employees deliberately put inaccurate information on their voter registration forms. The Berks County director of elections said voter fraud was “absolutely out of hand,” and added: “Not only do we have unintentional duplication of voter registration but we have blatant duplicate voter registrations.” The Berks County deputy director of elections added that ACORN was under investigation by the Department of Justice.
  • In Michigan, The Detroit Free Press reported that “overzealous or unscrupulous campaign workers in several Michigan counties are under investigation for voter-registration fraud, suspected of attempting to register nonexistent people or forging applications for already-registered voters.” ACORN-affiliate Project Vote was one of two groups suspected of turning in the documents.
  • In Florida, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman said ACORN was “singled out” among suspected voter registration groups for a 2004 wage initiative because it was “the common thread” in the agency’s fraud investigations.

External links

References

  1. WKOW-TV, "Milwaukee woman gets probation for ACORN voter registration," October 12, 2009
  2. Miami Herald, "Republicans, ACORN feud over suspicious voter cards," September 25, 2008 (dead link)
  3. Detroit Free Press, "Bad voter applications found," September 14, 2008
  4. Post-Tribune, "Lack of oversight blamed for fraudulent voter registration applications," October 3, 2008 (dead link)
  5. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "GOP says voter registration groups employed felons," October 2, 2008
  6. Rotten Acorn
  7. FOX News, "Voter Fraud Watch: Could ACORN Scandal in Washington Have Been Avoided With Photo ID?," May 2, 2008
  8. Seattle Times, "Felony charges filed against 7 in state's biggest case of voter-registration fraud," July 28, 2007
  9. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Reform group turned in 2000 suspicious voter registrations," February 23, 2007
  10. Columbus Post Dispatch, Man gets fine, probation for voting twice in '06 election," August 6, 2007
  11. KMBC-TV, "ACORN Workers Indicted For Alleged Voter Fraud," November 1, 2006
  12. PubDef, "4 ACORN Workers Indicted in KC," November 1, 2006
  13. Voter registration workers admit fraud (dead link)
  14. KSDK-TV, "St. Louis Election Board Investigating Voter Fraud," October 11, 2006
  15. Post and Courier, "Voting fraud case ends," September 23, 2009
  16. Rocky Mountain News, "Briefing," January 4, 2005
  17. Boston Globe, "Accused of fraud in voter registration," October 28, 2004
  18. New York Times, "The Acorn Indictments: A union-backed outfit faces charges of election fraud," November 3, 2006

Additional reading