October 10th, 2008
07:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Embattled ACORN defends its voter registration drive

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/09/acorn.fraud.claims/art.acorn.jpg caption="ACORN'S Las Vegas office was recently searched by Nevada state officials as part of an investigation into alleged voter fraud."]
(CNN) – In the midst of a fusillade of attacks from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from the McCain-Palin campaign, the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, often called “ACORN,” is not backing down and is, instead, defending its voter registration activities as attention turns to the integrity of the election system on the eve of an historic presidential election.

Citing a long history of voter suppression in the country, ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring said recent charges against the organization are just partisan attacks intended to undermine the group’s voter registration efforts. “The current strategy seems to be, from the right, to create, to manufacture a so-called crisis of voter fraud . . . and then to solve that crisis through measures that are about constricting the electorate, narrowing the electorate, keeping people from being able to vote,” he said.

Listen: ACORN, Project Vote explain their voter registration drive

On a conference call with reporters, ACORN and Project Vote, its partner in voter registration programs, explained their process for training and overseeing individuals who canvass for new registrations in the field.

Listen: ACORN, Project Vote answer reporters' questions

Canvassers are paid on an hourly basis and not, as some critics have charged, per registration submitted, Project Vote’s Executive Director Michael Slater said Friday. He also said there are no incentives for meeting or exceeding any quota, and that each application is reviewed and if potentially fraudulent or otherwise problematic registration cards are identified, they are flagged and turned into election officials. “In many states we are obligated to turn in all applications by law, regardless of whether we believe that there are problems are not,” Slater added. Asked for more details about which states have such a requirement, Brian Mellor, an attorney for ACORN, pointed to Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and California.

ACORN was subject to an out-all attack Friday from the McCain campaign, the Republican National Committee, and some Republicans in Congress. The McCain camp held a conference call where it sought to highlight ties between ACORN and Sen. Barack Obama and released a web video that sought to dramatize those ties. At virtually the same time, the RNC launched a new Web site about Obama’s ties to ACORN.

Six Republicans in the House of Representatives who have all previously been Secretaries of States also wrote a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey Friday asking that the Department of Justice investigate whether ACORN is engaged in voter fraud. The Department of Justice does not comment on its investigations, and refused to confirm whether it has opened an investigation into ACORN’s activities. The request echoed Sen. John McCain’s suggestion at a campaign event Thursday that an investigation into ACORN should take place.

Also on Thursday, several Republicans in Congress called for an end to any federal funding to ACORN. Friday, Kettenring and Slater said neither ACORN nor Project Vote seeks or accepts federal funding and that no federal money was used in the voter registration drive the groups just wrapped up roughly a week ago. Kettenring said, however, that some groups affiliated with ACORN may receive federal funding.

Related: Thousands of voter registration forms faked, officials say

Related: ACORN's Las Vegas office raided

Filed under: ACORN • Voter Problems
soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. dustin

    of course republicans don't like acorn, acorn fights for poor people

    October 10, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Dawn

    The people were paid based on the number of people enrolled to vote. That is a problem along with the fact the people need money to pay their bills. It was ran by money with people with no scruples.

    October 10, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    I'm betting the republicans planted the illegal registrations.

    Even so, the illegally registered cannot vote.

    That's what makes me think this is just a distraction planted to discredit and cause concern.

    October 10, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  4. maynard hopkins wi

    another one of Obamas corupt dealings. Obama is into everything except be straight.

    October 10, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  5. ines

    McCain already knows he has lost. Look at the video of his rallies the past couple of days. He defended Obama to his rally attenders who were getting out of hand. Look at McCain's face and body language. He knows what the polls are saying. He knows what is happening on the ground within each state.

    Please McCain – Honor your country with integrity and grace in the next few weeks. We are in a crisis. Please choose the high road.

    October 10, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    McCain is friends with G Gordon Liddy – the man who was prisoned for trying to subvert our very constitution. He was on his talk show last year praising Liddy. That shows the characters McCain continues to have in his life.

    October 10, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  7. No Way, No How, No Mccain

    Everyone is seeing the light. McPalin is out. He wants for taxpayers to bail out the afflueants on Wall Street. Shame, shame.

    October 10, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  8. Minnesota Mom

    Call me paranoid, but it sounds like a set-up by the republicans.

    October 10, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  9. brian

    Yeah let's demonize a group who helps people register to vote because some bad papers went through. Not as bad as half the crap that happened in Florida circa 2000.

    October 10, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  10. Zac, Atlanta

    "obligated to turn in all applications by law"

    It seems like they're implying they're the victims of some sort of Rovian scheme....

    October 10, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    I'll never forgive McCain and Palin for all the nasty things they have done, and I'll never forget.

    I'm voting next Thursday for Obama/Biden '08

    October 10, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  12. Paul Thompson

    Did you expect them to admit fraud?

    Are you investigative reporters or
    Obama surrogates?

    October 10, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  13. Shannon

    voter fraud, another tactic in the Obama play book. This man will say or do anything to win.....just ask the Clintons.

    October 10, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  14. California Gold

    Clearly ACORN had some problems with employees who did not want to spend time in the 120 degree Las Vegas summer heat and may have fudged, but it's too big a stretch to go from suspicious registrations to conspiracy to defraud. Every time we sign a petition or sign up to vote at the shopping mall opens the process to criticism of fraud, but it does not mean there was intent. Until an investigation is concluded and charges filed, I think it's probably another issue for McCain to get his panties twisted up over.

    October 10, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. pahusker

    Buckley is another Ivory tower intellectual who wants to go to cocktail parties and hob-nob with Obamaphiles. A real conservative cannot possibly want Obama to win as he lies at the left extreme of the democratic party. It 's just so "in" to be for Obama. This election is really about whether you feel that you need government to hold your hand thru life or whether you have the guts and intellect to do it on your own. American's need to stop living above their means, take responsibilty for their finances, their family, and their health and stop looking for the easy life thru government handouts, lottery tickets and lawsuits.

    October 10, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  16. Florian

    and once again, it's the republicans messing up our political system. Why would they commit fraud, if they are payed by the hour and not by the registration?! There is no reason.
    And why in the name of God are all the complaints coming from the republicans? well maby because the polls are showing Obama ahead of McCain?!...Yeah that be it!

    October 10, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  17. Mark R

    BULL !!!!!!!!

    ACORN has been proven to be a radical group. Who lies, cheats and falsely registers voters.

    October 10, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  18. James

    ACORN is a very fine group , that has done many wonderful things for this country. This is just more spin from the Republicans in an affort to suppress the vote AGAIN.

    They can't win on the issues , so they have to try to lie , cheat and steal the election.


    ENOUGH !

    October 10, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  19. jason, tx

    Seems the Republican hate machine is after poor people too. Ridiculous.

    October 10, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  20. Ann Noble

    Is it only me , or does anyone else see a "coincidence" in the ACORN voter fraud story coming out on the same day that the Palin "troopergate" report is due? Can you say Distraction???

    October 10, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  21. Tired of Obama

    Well, part of Obama's conspiracy to steal this race has been exposed. Let's hope the rest is as well and my fellow Americans wil come to their senses.

    October 10, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  22. johnrj08

    I support ACORN and think they've accomplished some good, but they've obviously got some loose-cannons operating out there that they need to rein in.

    October 10, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  23. Louvene

    Could this just be another dirty trick played by losing politicians? Gee, let's get bogus voter registrations in the system so it will look like the Democrates are cheating.

    October 10, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  24. Donna


    October 10, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  25. Lesley

    Why doesn't the general media turn it's attention to the GOP-sponsored purging of voter records all over the country? There is a huge article on the Huffington Post about the illegal activities of the Repubs disenfranchising voters, and proof that the 2004 Ohio votes were fraudulently changed from Kerry to Bush by sending them to a computer operated by the RNC. All we hear about is ACORN, what about GOP?

    October 10, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
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