Defenses of ACORN

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Main ACORN page

Defenses of ACORN against its critics center around several points:

  • Regarding fraud in voter registration drives, the charges are overwrought.
  • The organization turns in its workers who commit fraud to the authorities.
  • ACORN is legally required to submit fraudulent voter registration cards in its possession, so it should not be criticized for doing so.
  • The problems are not widespread.
  • ACORN does much good in terms of increasing the pool of minority and low-income voters who become registered to vote and the value they add should be seen as more than compensating for what they regard as isolated acts of fraud.

ACORN's self-defense

ACORN has admitted that some of its workers falsified registrations or turned in registrations with obviously fabricated information. ACORN claims that these voter registration problems are not widespread, and that some mistakes are to be expected with such a massive voter registration operation.[1]. ACORN claims that it has a zero tolerance policy and terminates any workers engaging in voter registration fraud.[2].

ACORN has also claimed that laws governing third party voter registration require them to submit even obviously false or fraudulent voter registration applications to election officials.[2] It is unclear whether this is an accurate understanding of the law.[3]

See: List of people who say that ACORN is legally obligated to turn in fraudulent cards.

ACORN's fact sheet

ACORN has responded to its critics on its home page with a detailed "fact sheet" which explains their methods and system of internal controls.[4]. ACORN contends that:

  • It has "implemented the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field but in almost every state we are required to turn in ALL completed applications, even the ones we know to be problematic."
  • It "flags in writing incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards when we turn them in,. Unfortunately, some of these same officials then come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in phony cards. In many cases, we can actually prove that these are the same cards we called to their attention."
  • "Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card . ACORN has a zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in the cases where our internal quality controls have identified this happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to election officials and law-enforcement."
  • "No criminal charges related to voter registration have ever been brought against ACORN or partner organizations. Convictions against individual former ACORN workers have been accomplished with our full cooperation, using the evidence obtained through our quality control and verification processes — evidence which in most cases WE called to the attention of authorities."
  • "Most election officials have recognized ACORN’s good work and praised our quality control systems. Even in the cities where election officials have complained about ACORN, the applications in question represent less than 1% of the thousands and thousands of registrations ACORN has collected."
  • "Our accusers not only fail to provide any evidence, they fail to suggest a motive: there is virtually no chance anyone would be able to vote fraudulently, so there is no reason to deliberately submit phony registrations. ACORN is committed to ensuring that the greatest possible numbers of people are registered."

Further, ACORN defends its actions as a whole stating that the fraudulent activities of a few of its workers should not taint the organization as a whole. Although ACORN admits mistakes, it maintains that activities of the vast majority of its operation are legitimate.[5].

Organizations and individuals defending ACORN

Media Matters

Since allegations of ACORN-related voter registration fraud began surfacing, Media Matters for America has issued a stream of defenses of the group. In May 2004, the New York Times reported that Media Matters has received "more than $2 million in donations from wealthy liberals." According to the Cybercast News Service, Media Matters has received financial support from MoveOn.org.

Film Director Robert Greenwald

Robert Greenwald, an American film director and political activist and producer of documentary films such as Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism has produced a short YouTube documentary, which purports to show Republican officials and candidates engaging in voter suppression through criticism of ACORN.[6]

Micah Sifry

Micah Sifry, co-founder and executive editor of the Personal Democracy Forum, senior analyst with Public Campaign and contributor to the Huffington Post has come out in support of ACORN and its affiliate the Working Family Party in his public commentary as well as on his Twitter account.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist

Gov. Charlie Crist has distanced himself, to some extent, from the rest of the RNC by making statements that have been viewed by many as defenses of ACORN's activities in the state of Florida.[7]

U. S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Rep. Jackson serves as the national campaign co-chair for the Barack Obama Presidential campaign and has defended ACORN against allegations of vote fraud and voter registration fraud in nationally published articles. Along with his defense, Rep. Jackson accused ACORNs detractors of engaging in a widespread effort to suppress minority and low-income voters.[8]

U. S. Representative John Conyers

Congressman John Conyers came to the defense of ACORN shortly following news that the FBI was starting an investigation into ACORN's voter registration activities. Rep. Conyers stated in a letter to the Justice Department that ACORN has "a longstanding and well regarded organization that fights for the poor and working class," and he criticized the Justice Department "for leaking this story so close to an election."[9].

"As an initial matter, it is simply unacceptable that such information would be leaked during the very peak of the election season...Such leaks of information about ongoing criminal investigation matters are always inappropriate, and likely violate the provisions of the U.S. Attorney manual governing release of information about ongoing investigations (and which, in any event, would require approval from the responsible U.S. Attorney or Department division before release."

Support from newspapers

The Kansas City Star editorialized in ACORN's defense on October 17, 2008, writing, "From John McCain on down, Republicans are accusing a community group of engaging in massive voter fraud . But the charges levied against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now largely appear overwrought. McCain went over the top in his debate Wednesday night with Barack Obama, stating that ACORN 'is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.'"

External links

References