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[Slate]McCain, ACORN, and the Attack on the "Fabric of Democracy"

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by SamFisher, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. SamFisher

    SamFisher Member

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    Dahila Lithwick sums it up on the Mythical unACORN and why it's dangerous to believe the lies about it.

    In a nutshell - as has been said here before - the ACORN voter registration fraud - that is reported by ACORN to the authorities - has zero effect on the election. ACORN voting fraud, actually any voting fraud despite exhaustive investigation to the contrary by the DOJ, among others - simply does not exist - it's the Loch Ness Monster.

    The danger of this is that it is not only a fraudulent, dishonest attempt to undermine faith in democracy, but it gives cover for far more insidious methods of voter suppression and intimidation.

    See more below.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2202428/

    Jurisprudence: The law, lawyers, and the court.
    Nuts About ACORN
    Believing in vote fraud may be dangerous to a democracy's health.
    By Dahlia Lithwick
    Posted Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008, at 7:16 PM ET

    Who's nuts, ACORN or its accusers?

    Last night's presidential debate didn't rise to full-frontal bodice-ripper status until John McCain insisted, "[W]e need to know the full extent of Sen. Obama's relationship with ACORN, who 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." Obama probably shouldn't have guffawed. But it was hard not to. He was probably thinking, "Destroying the fabric of democracy???" Even for McCain that was a little bit of breathless chest-heaving.

    As far as "gotcha" stunts go, the right-wing feeding frenzy over the vile vote-fraud treachery of ACORN has yet to yield much fruit. Investigations are indeed under way. But then, they are always under way this time of the year—and as the indefatigable Brad Friedman points out, so what? Evidence of voter-registration wrongdoing is no more a sign of widespread, Obama-sanctioned vote fraud than evidence of minorities being misled and intimidated on Election Day is a sign of official, McCain-sanctioned vote suppression. What's the real point of turning voter-registration shenanigans into "one of the greatest frauds in voter history"? The object here is not criminal indictments. It's to undermine voter confidence in the elections system as a whole. John McCain wants to build a better bogeyman, and he needs your help to do it.

    ACORN stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. It's a 30-year-old nonprofit that organizes on behalf of poor urban minorities, and it has registered 1.3 million new voters this year. There's no denying that the organization's system of paying workers $8 an hour to gather voter registrations creates screwy incentives. Encyclopedia Brown could have cracked that mystery. That's why ACORN is either obligated by law or opts voluntarily to turn over all its voter-registration cards suggesting that Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the entire starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys just registered to vote in Nevada. That GOP elections officials started screaming "gotcha" when those registrations were turned in is the real fraud here. Jump back, Encyclopedia Brown! There is wrongdoing afoot in low-paying voter-registrationland.


    Last week, media attention focused on a "raid" on ACORN offices in Las Vegas in which voter registration documents that had mostly been voluntarily turned over were dramatically seized by force. Right-wing screeching over nefarious doings in Ohio (where Freddie Johnson of Cleveland testified that ACORN encouraged him to sign 73 voter-registration forms—all in his own name) overlooks the fact that all 73 registrations would still have allowed Freddie to vote just once. The connection between wrongful voter registration and actual polling-place vote fraud is the stuff of GOP mythology. As Rick Hasen has demonstrated, here at Slate and elsewhere, even if Mr. Mouse is registered to vote, he still needs to show up at his polling place, provide a fake ID, and risk a felony conviction to do so.

    Large-scale, coordinated vote stealing doesn't happen. The incentives—unlike the incentives for registration fraud—just aren't there. In an interview this week with Salon, Lorraine Minnite of Barnard College, who has studied vote fraud systematically, noted that "between 2002 to 2005 only one person was found guilty of registration fraud. Twenty others were found guilty of voting while ineligible and five were guilty of voting more than once. That's 26 criminal voters." Twenty-six criminal voters despite the fact that U.S. attorneys, like David Iglesias in New Mexico, were fired for searching high and low for vote-fraud cases to prosecute and coming up empty. Twenty-six criminal voters despite the fact that five days before the 2006 election, then-interim U.S. Attorney Bradley Schlozman exuberantly (and futilely) indicted four ACORN workers, even when Justice Department policy barred such prosecutions in the days before elections. RNC General Counsel Sean Cairncross has said he is unaware of a single improper vote cast because of bad cards submitted in the course of a voter-registration effort. Republican campaign consultant Royal Masset says, "n-person voter fraud is nonexistent. It doesn't happen, and ... makes no sense because who's going to take the risk of going to jail on something so blatant that maybe changes one vote?"

    There is no such thing as vote fraud. The think tank created to peddle the epidemic has evaporated. A handful of cases have been prosecuted. Then why is Sarah Palin shooting off e-mails contending that "we can't allow leftist groups like ACORN to steal this election?" Why is former Sen. John Danforth announcing, all statesmanlike, that the whole 2008 election "has been tainted?" Why is Ted Olson, the Republican National Lawyers Association lawyer of the year, claiming that "[ACORN] acknowledged having to get rid of a thousand people or more who were participating in voter fraud efforts." These people know the difference between registration fraud and vote fraud. Why continue to suggest they are the same thing?

    Consider the fact that, as the Brennan Center reported recently, "[E]lection officials across the country are routinely striking millions of voters from the rolls through a process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation." Consider the recent New York Times review of state records and Social Security records, which concluded that "[t]ens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law." Consider the case, now on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which 200,000 new Ohio voters stand to be bounced off the rolls because, through no fault of their own, their names don't match error-riddled state databases. Consider the indictment this week of former Republican official James Tobin for his 2002 role in jamming Democratic get-out-the-vote calls. Consider the much-ballyhooed Republican challenge to the eligibility of 6,000 Native American and student voters in Montana that backfired first in court, then with the abrupt resignation this week of the official who spearheaded the effort.

    Nobody is suggesting the Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts are perfect. But the suggestion that Barack Obama, through ACORN, is systematically working to get Huey, Dewey, and Louie to steal elections, and that therefore minorities and people of color should be disenfranchised, is cynical beyond belief. Consider the fliers and robo-calls designed to spread false information and threats to Hispanic and African-American voters. (According to the Philadelphia Daily News, fliers in minority neighborhoods warned residents that undercover cops would be lurking around the polls on Election Day, arresting anyone with "outstanding arrest warrants or who have unpaid traffic tickets.") There is wholly implausible vote stealing, and then there is the vote stealing that actually happens. You want to get all crazy-paranoid? I'd worry more about the people who want to rough up their fellow citizen at the polls than people who want to risk jail time for voting twice.

    In the end, all roads lead back to John Paul Stevens. He wrote the plurality opinion in last term's Crawford v. Marion County, which upheld Indiana's restrictive voter-ID law. Stevens understood that there is no such thing as polling-place vote fraud, conceding that "[t]he record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history." But, continued Stevens, in the manner of someone rationally discussing the likelihood of UFO sightings, "flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this nation's history." Like, um, an 1868 mayoral election in New York City, he notes, and a single 2004 incident from Washington. Stevens was more worried about shaky "voter confidence" in elections than actual voting. The message that went out from on high was clear: undermine voter confidence. Even if it's irrational and hysterical and tinged with the worst kinds of racism, keep telling the voters the system is busted.

    Each time they spread the word that Democrats (especially poor and minority Democrats) are poised to steal an election, John McCain and his overheated friends deliberately undermine voter confidence. That is the point. It encourages citizens to accede to ever-harsher voter-verification laws—even if they are not needed. It musters support for voter purges that are increasingly draconian. Insist often enough that the other side is cheating, and you may even encourage partisans to take matters into their own hands, leading to the worst forms of polling-place vigilantism—from a cross burning in Louisiana on the eve of a 2006 mayoral election to the hiring of intimidating partisan "poll watchers" to volunteer at inner-city polling places. When McCain goes after ACORN, he's really just asking you to join him in believing that the system is broken. And if you choose to overheat along with McCain, the Supreme Court promises to sign off on any measure that might calm you down later. John McCain might want to be a little more careful about accusing Obama, ACORN, or anyone else, of "destroying the fabric of democracy." In so doing, he's either deliberately or unconsciously encouraging his own supporters to grab a handful of the stuff and start ripping.
     
  2. Old Man Rock

    Old Man Rock Contributing Member

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    That is an awfully long read. Let me summarize it for you people who don't have the time.

    The Chosen One is being unfairly crucified by Right wing Devils.
     
  3. white lightning

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    Thanks for summarizing something you didn't read.
     
  4. IROC it

    IROC it Member

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    Hey... Democracy?


    Recite the Pledge of Allegiance.


    Thanks.
     
  5. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Member

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    Good thing you guys didn't actually read it. And why should you? You already believe what you're gonna believe.

    And yet the media stays silent, even now, when Republican efforts of vote suppression have yielded two terms of George Bush. Now they have a candidate who isn't even popular enough for them to credibly create voter caging lists, to get Diebold and such companies to fix the machines, to get election officials and "volunteers" to scrub perfectly good votes, to make a "hanging chad" incident that actually hid the fact that Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris kept tens of thousands of black voters from registering any vote, AT ALL....but what does it matter, because, of course, the implication that so many were willing to believe then is that black people aren't smart enough to vote, and the implication now is that they have to cheat to get their candidate to win.

    Don't get me wrong. The other side is still gonna do what it can, especially in the closer states. It just won't help McCain win, so sad.

    Great democracy we live in.
     
  6. glynch

    glynch Member

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    Well our voter registration system is really half assed and no model for the world. Why not learn from the other advanced democracies?

    We need to have a non-partisan civil servant whose job it is to register voters. Why rely on volunteers or minimum wage day workers from ACORN or any other organization. At least ACORN is trying to pick up the slack in our willfully negigligent voter registration system which fails to register tens of millions of potential voters.

    One set of rules for all federal elections.

    I suppose we have to leave every state have their own screwy rules for their own elections. Even there, we had to step in with the Voting Rights Act to prevent abuse in some states.

    It should be a civil right to vote in a clean election. That does not mean denying millions the right to vote under the excuse that several in every 10,000 game the system somehow-- the type of excuse used by the GOP to suppress voting.
     
    #6 glynch, Oct 17, 2008
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  7. durvasa

    durvasa Member

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    So is this your response for everything, now? I'm not sure why you even bother to post in a Debate/Discussion forum.

    This is an issue I haven't been following closely. So if there are any McCain supporters who take this ACORN stuff seriously (i.e. not simply as a political stunt), I'd appreciate an attempt at an honest rebuttal.
     
  8. Major

    Major Member

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    It's an easy response where he can claim to the victim without having to ever actually address substance. It's childish and ignorant, but it works.
     
  9. SamFisher

    SamFisher Member

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    The closest your going to get is somebody copypasta-ing a set of talking points and a lame one-liner.

    Granted I started this thread with a copy paste but I've discussed this situation at length in the past.

    The myth of widespread voting fraud is precisely that. I mean the Republicans have been charging at this windmill for years.

    There's nothing there. That's what the US Atty scandal was about, ask David Iglesias.

    As Lithwick points out, and I've pointed out before - this is all known by intelligent people on the right (and especially known to Iglesias and other fired lifelong Republican US Attorneys who had not forgotten their oaths to the state bar and their individual office) - voting fraud is a chupacabra.

    So why would they knowingly harp on something that doesn't exist? As part of a cynical exercise to undermine voting is all I can come up with here.
     
  10. mc mark

    mc mark Member

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    great read Sam! thanks!
     
  11. B-Bob

    B-Bob "94-year-old self-described dreamer"

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    OMR, the most disappointing thing to me about your response is that the (interesting, well-researched) article is not about Barack Obama or attacks on him.

    The article's main point deals with the recurring issue of certain groups charging "voter fraud" when there is zero evidence that this exists. In fact, as the articles details, there is significant objective data that, instead, tens of thousands of eligible voters (at least that many) are unfairly losing their right to vote.

    I rarely agree with glynch word for word, but it is embarrassing to me, as someone who loves this country, that our voter registration is so backward compared to other democracies on the planet.

    I would like to hear someone who is sincerely worried about ACORN engage in this thread sincerely.
     
  12. Rashmon

    Rashmon Member

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  13. rimrocker

    rimrocker Member

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    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/
     
  14. basso

    basso Member
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    not so much a myth, as reality. here's an example from this year's democratic primary. just one precinct, in one district, in one state,~30% of votes were fraudulent.

    [rquoter]Today, news out of New Mexico, the state GOP looked at information for 92 newly-registered voters in one district, and found 28 had "missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers or birth dates. In some cases, more than one voter was registered using the same Social Security number. In others, people who the Republicans said had no Social Security number on public record were registered." All of these are of individuals who have already cast ballots in the June New Mexico state legislative Democratic primary.[/rquoter]

    and ACORN had been registering voters prior to the primary.
     
  15. LScolaDominates

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    1. 30% of votes were not fraudulent, even assuming these allegations are true. The article only refers to "newly-registered voters". I hope this was an oversight on your part and not a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the facts.

    2. What "public record" are they using to match voter registration data to social security numbers? This is important because government databases often have inaccuracies. Same goes for birth dates.

    3. Please provide evidence that even one of these cases amounts to actual voter fraud. All we have is a bunch of numbers and vague allegations being made by the state Republican party. I'm sure you intend to provide something more substantial to supplement your claim.
     
  16. mc mark

    mc mark Member

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    more from TPM --


    Obama Camp Connects ACORN Probe to US Attorneys Scandal

    By Zachary Roth - October 17, 2008, 3:01PM

    Add the Obama campaign to the growing list of players who think that DOJ's election-eve investigation into ACORN is a repeat of the politicization of the department that we saw in the US attorney firings scandal.

    "With this voter fraud [investigation[, we're seeing an unholy alliance of law enforcement and the ugliest form of partisan politics," Bob Bauer, an elections lawyer with the Obama camp, said on a conference call with reporters just now. Bauer compared the decision to launch the investigation with the US attorneys scandal, in which several US attorneys were fired for their unwillingess to pursue politically charged cases, including voter fraud, with sufficient aggression to satisfy the Bush administration.

    Bauer released a letter sent to Attorney General Michael Mukasey calling on him to have the issue taken on by Nora Dannehy, the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the US attorney firings.

    Bauer went on to accuse John McCain of "trying to create a much greater doubt about the electoral process altogether," by alleging that ACORN voter fraud could threaten the fabric of our democracy, as McCain claimed in the debate Wednesday night.

    House Judiciary chair John Conyers, as well as David Iglesias -- whose firing as US attorney was a direct result of his reluctance to pursue GOP-pushed claims of voter fraud, according to the recent OIG report -- have also connected the FBI's ACORN investigation to the kind of politicization exposed in the firings saga.

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/obama_camp_connects_acorn_prob.php

    I don't think McCain really wanted to open this can of worms.
     
  17. SamFisher

    SamFisher Member

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    I'm troubled that you are having difficulty even with the National Review's prose and can't parse their sentences.

    I'll break it down for you. Even the misleaders at the National Review don't go as far as you do .

    Ok, they found "SOME" repeat out of 28.

    I'm guessing that number is somewhere between 2 and 27. Probably less than 14. So 2-14 same SSNREGISTRATIONS

    PAUSE

    In others, people who the Republicans said had no Social Security number on public record were registered." All of these are of individuals who have already cast ballots in the June New Mexico state legislative Democratic primary

    "in others" ok, well once again we're left with 2-14 - SSN-less registrations of people who voted in the primaries. Are these double votes? Are these incomplete votes?

    I don't know - you don't know - you just presumed based on the opinion of "Republicans" that these were fraudulent part of an evil conspiracy of inner-city blacks and hispanics to rob you of your rightful place in the universe

    Basso tell me a few things:

    1. How you determined that "people" = "~30%" of ALL THE VOTERS IN A PRECINCT and why you necessarily made this assumption.

    2. Why you were lying to us in case you actually knew what you were doing in response to one.

    3. What proportion of acutal votes cast in this district were fraudulent or even suspicious.

    4. Why you can determine from the lack of social security number that they were, in fact, fraudulent rather than incomplete?

    Do you see?

    Do you see now?

    Do you see why David Iglesias had to resign rather than deal with this bullsh-t?

    Not even the sh-ttiest lawyer on earth , much less a US Atty,would attempt to go to court or even a grand jury with zero evidence like this which is part lie, part distortion, and part crop circle.

    Why don't you go back to your blog thread. You are not helping your cause.

    I said "you're chasing at windmills with vote registration fraud, show me some evidence!"

    You respond by erecting a Wind Farm on your front lawn.
     
    #17 SamFisher, Oct 17, 2008
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  18. rimrocker

    rimrocker Member

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    How about posting the whole thing?

    The Duran Duran thing is funny and discredits the whole piece... it's also evidence that the author never read the Milagro Beanfield War. Weird stuff is not easily dismissed in New Mexico.

    There is no link to the findings. I follow the links in the story and it only takes me to other winger blogs citing the same things and they don't have links to the original story. Where's the original source for this "news out of New Mexico?"

    Let me get this straight... the Republican Party investigated this on its own? If so, it'd the first time in 8 years they investigated something. Even with their crackerjack objective investigators on the case, there is absolutely no evidence of systematic or organized fraud. Incomplete forms? Typos?
    More than one person using the same SSN? Was it 2 or 20? If it was 2, I would bet it was an elderly couple and the wife used the husband's number because they didn't know how to fill out the forms. And it would not be that unusual for a New Mexican to not have a SSN. New Mexico is different.

    It'd also be interesting to find out where this precinct is. That number seems awfully small for an Albuquerque precinct, even though that's what one of the winger blogs claim. If it is, it has to be from the far west side where it would include a scattered community of Navajo and other Native Americans.

    Why is it that Republicans want to keep Americans from voting? Americans who serve in this country's armed forces at an above average rate and have been critical in winning wars? basso, do you hate Native Americans who serve our country? I can only assume you do.
     
  19. Rashmon

    Rashmon Member

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  20. rimrocker

    rimrocker Member

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    Link here: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/
     

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