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. returning favors

    C'mon Brian, admit it.

    $800,000 is a big amount anyday.

    If you and organization returned small favors, this is ok in democratic setup.
    Paying umemployed youths for signing fake papers was helpful in these tough economic days .

    October 10, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  2. Nando

    Hi all! I'm a latino and you know, we have a feeling of how things can be "twisted" to produce a result... Ask yourself: who is winning anything with this scandal? The answer is easy: McCain. Now ask: how in the world the guys who faked these registration forms thought that nobody would notice the errors and evident problems? Answer: they were planning for these forms to be found! Think about this: some guys infiltrated in ACORN, with or without McCain knowledge (we don't know yet), faked all these forms so they could be found at this time of the election process, so that Obama could be included in this scandal. Simple math.

    October 10, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  3. Candia

    And this all the while while efforts at voter caging or purging, or misinforming voters about the process/polling stations/requirements etc. are going on all over the country, largely unreported by the media. I am appalled (and, frankly, frightened) that this is happening in a developed country.

    October 10, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  4. JOHN


    October 10, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. Janine

    To everyone:

    Please check online to make sure you are registered to vote even if you have your registration cards. Thousands of people have been purged from the voter registrations files and your vote will not count. And it's coming out that it is mostly Democrats (they haven't released numbers). Several people in my workplace checked on our state's website and it says "no records found". Don't be fooled by the Republicans.

    October 10, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. Mary from Pennsylvania

    The accusation and possible voter registration fraud needs to be investigated, but I believe the investigation will reveal employees working on the basis of voters registered – the more registered, the more you earn. A complete investigation will reveal poor screening of employees and inadequate training.

    October 10, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  7. Elizabeth

    I am sad that the media and the McCain campaign has demonized community organizations. I have helped register voters for Obama and I don't know anyone involved with ACORN. It's overblown and it's sad. I'm a caseworker and feel like my job is being demonized. Please post this is.

    McCain is one sad man.

    -White Woman in Texas-

    October 10, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  8. rightsaid

    The extreme parts of the GOP have nothing left but to muckrake and distract as much as possible.

    It is rich to raise issues about ACORN after what we've seen happen in Florida and Ohio in recent elections.

    Obama-Biden '08!

    October 10, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  9. Old Guy

    The republican party is unAmerican in it's attempt to suppress the right of individuals to vote.

    The republican party under the stewardship of Bush/Cheney/McCain/Palin is sliding toward the new "American Nazi Party".

    One man or woman one vote!

    October 10, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  10. Ron L

    I am all for trying to get poor people involved in the political process...BUT...ALL key members of the Democratic Party need to call thier contacts at ACORN and DEMAND ALL of these irregularities to cease. They also need to tell the leaders of the organization, "find those who broke the law and FIRE them. Then notices should come out that this type of behaviour WILL NOT be tolerated. NO MORE EXCUSES...let's clean this mess up!!

    October 10, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  11. C_Lozano

    It's about time this was done. This election is getting ugly enough without having to wonder about voter fraud come election day. There's nothing wrong with trying to get people to vote and encouraging registration. The real issue lies in fraudulent votes or fraudulent voter registrations, and unfortunately, that shadow of doubt and fraud hovers over ACORN right now. The sooner it's dealt with, the better.

    October 10, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  12. blueboomerintx

    All's fair in love and politics!
    Let's see what some of those Repubnigcan "voter registration" projects have been up to, not to mention all those voter *intimidation* projects.
    This partisan attack on a good organization that gives voice and power to the voiceless and powerless is nothing more than an ill-concealed proxy for covert race-baiting and intimidation.
    And it shows the desperation of the Repubs to stop at nothing to win.
    When Barack Obama wins in a landslide on Nov 4,the Repubs will no doubt whine and complain about a handful of incomplete voter registrations by ACORN.

    Change is coming!

    October 10, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  13. Dave in Illinois

    Question for ACORN; what's your current record for the number of voters named Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck that have been registered from the same address in Indianapolis where 105% of the eligible residents have registered to vote with your help?

    October 10, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. Ann Romero

    Do not trust this one CNN, ACORN is a part of the Obama group and Obama should tell the truth, Obama represents false lies, he is trying to buy the election with voter fraud. What else is in his back pocket, contriubtion to organizations that promote this type of behavior. He is not to be trusted, especially with a failed economy, if he becomes President we will all suffer the great depression. Everybody, get out of the stock market, the government is trying to take up to the cleaners and Obama is leading the way.

    October 10, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  15. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    McCain's fear mongering is gross to try to link Obama to ACORN.

    Socialism the Rep. are crying about is already happening through their own GOP Policies to run banking , Wall Street , and Insurance companies.

    Redistribution of wealth McCain's property buying bad mortages and discounting them. That's like buting a car that you can't afford and driving it off the lot then complaining the the bank it not worth what you paid for it refinance it at a discount.

    October 10, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  16. Hillary Supporter for McCain/Palin

    lets see if Main stream media reports this and becomes real journalism!

    October 10, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  17. Mrs. Texas Teacher

    Yes, I am quite sure that the Republicans would be calling for an investigation! They know exactly how they did it to Kerry. And I don't doubt that they know how to do the reverse as well. We have no evidence to say who put these bad voter registration cards into the mix! Wouldn't it be easy to send a bunch of people out to file the bad cards, then call for an investigation of the process that you know you have rigged? Call me McCynic.... I'm sorry.

    I DON'T PUT ANYTHING PAST THE REPUBLICAN CAMP. Not after two really scandalously close elections. And the type of campaign McCain/Palin have been running. These people are desperate... and they see themselves losing! Seriously...... I think they are capable of just about anything at this point!

    October 10, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. Niki

    John McCain and Sarah Palin are responsible for planting the seeds of suspicion from which hatred has grown.

    October 10, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  19. joanne

    Why would they do something so stupid? The Obama campaign does not need that foolish. Leave the cheating to the Republicans they have been doing longer and they are better at it.

    October 10, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  20. Voter

    It's high time someone slapped ACORN down.

    They are now officially out of control.

    If they have it at all, they should lose their tax-free status.

    October 10, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  21. Kyle

    Stop the Republicans from stealing another election! CNN, do your job and report on voter suppression. It was ignored in Florida and Ohio by your network in 2000 and 2004.

    October 10, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  22. Mrs. Texas Teacher

    Wow.... I guess mine was not such an original idea after all. Call us all McCynics! That is exactly what the McSame Camp has done to themselves. As I said in the next article: "If you lie down with pigs, don't be surprised when you get up smelling like hog!"

    October 10, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  23. Mike

    ACORN is not to blame in this. As stated in the article they are often REQUIRED to turn in all registrations regardless of whether they are real or say Mickey Mouse on them. The right wingers are throwing a fit about this to cover up for the REAL voter fraud where they actively participate in voter suppression schemes. Look up any article about voter suppression and you will see that it is usually targeting young people, minorities, and people living in heavily democratic areas. Those efforts dont come from Democrats you can bet on that.

    October 10, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  24. Stew

    ACORN is corrupt! Clean them up when you are elected John McCain! We cannot have such deceit in our voting system. Shame on ACORN!

    October 10, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  25. Chris

    The real headline should be "Republicans try to suppress voting rights . . again"

    October 10, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
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