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. Al

    And just to show you that the Republicans are still up to their dirty tricks, I received an email tieing Acorn to Barack Hussein Obama who they claim paid Acorn hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Two sins of deceit here: (1) emphasing Obama's middle name which, although being correct, has a not-so-subtle reference to Saddam Hussein or, at the very least, a Muslim) and (2) no mention was made either in CNN or the NY Times about an Obama connection to Acorn.

    Now even if we suppose that Obama's campaign fund channeled money to Acorn it would have been for voter registration drives, a perfectly normal and sensible thing to do since minority participation in the election process is critical to the Democrats for Obama's election.

    So far, where's the beef?

    October 10, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  2. Sam in ky

    IF this is something ACORN knowingly did, then Obama should be steaming. This is exactly the kind of b.s. he doesn't need. On the other hand, these kinds of drives are usually planned by organization's core leadership, but carried out by temporary employees or volunteers. I would like to know who those temps and volunteers were, and what their political ties were. It's entirely possible that they could be opposition supporters purposefully subverting the process to bring negative publicity on Obama.

    October 10, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  3. patrice

    This is disgusting. What is terribly sad is all of the Obama supporters hunting through the woods for the homeless and addicts to register and vote the same day in Ohio. Honestly, it is sad to see a party sink to this. I am in fear for this country and my children. The USA is becoming a socialist country. This is frightening. Maybe I can get Ireland to take us in. Because America is going down hill and will be destroyed if the Liberals take over. May God have mercy on us.

    October 10, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  4. Mark Vanderloo

    Any kind of voting fraud regardless if it is alleged bogus registrations or alleged caging and illegal vote purging by Republicans should be investigated. I don't care who does it, but anything that ruins the fairness of our voting process should be prosecuted to the full extent.

    Obama supporter BTW.

    October 10, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |

    More Republican nonsense. ACORN is not like the state of Florida where voter fraud is so in-your-face. This organization's primary goal is to help people help themselves and encouraging people to vote is one of the best ways for people to have a say in America.

    October 10, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  6. America think for you

    Barack Obama do not abuse his power to fire no body wrongly. Ethics verse trust. How can we trust the GOP? They had lied about it for so long and refused to coorparate because they knew that they were guilty. They are so desperate and have nothing else to talk about but lies. Do not let them deviate your thought about the economy.

    October 10, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  7. BT IN CO

    SIGH...oh, my! The Emperor has no clothes!

    Brothers and Sisters on the Left, just as our Sibs on the Right stand on thin ice, so do we. Please, get straight in the head! Obama is NOT the Answer. He is as corrupt as the rest, at best no more, but no less!

    October 10, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  8. America think for you

    Bomb Iran no more we need jobs over here. Our pockets are hurting. My kids are looking at me hungry and daddy cannot feed them. Bomd Iraq no more it cost $ billion a month while they have a $ 79 billion surplus and we in the US are running a $ 50 trillion dollars defficit. We need that $ 10 billion in the US. Alghada is in Afghanistan not in Iraq. 4000 young boys with bright future had lost their lives fighting an unjustify war. We need jobs in the US to pay for high gas and high grocery. No more bomb we are causing global warming to get worse with every bomb we drop.
    We need a president that understand the economy and that can work with world leaders. The economy is causing people to commit suicide we are fed up.

    Barack Obama do not abuse his power to fire no body wrongly. Ethics verse trust. How can we trust the GOP? They had lied about it for so long and refused to coorparate because they knew that they were guilty. They are so desperate and have nothing else to talk about but lies. Do not let them deviate your thought about the economy.

    October 10, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  9. fmr. Hillary Supporter now for McCain

    A.CO.R.N., the biggest phony voter registration drive in the country has a long time connection to Barrak Obama and has just endorsed him .

    So now that explains where he's getting the surge in the polls from: the people who have registered with them who aren't gonna vote at all November 4th. Now who's getting desperate?

    P.S. the "Troopergate Investigation" also revealed that they're not gonna labels this as a CRIME

    sorry to be bearer of bad news to all you Obamalovers.


    October 10, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. what change?

    In this corner, we have Keating, Troopergate.

    In this corner, we have Ayres, Rezco, Wright, ACORN.

    Change is coming! Yeah, right.

    October 10, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  11. John

    The motive to accuse ACORN is to intimidate ACORN in their successful voting registration drives. The people behind this attack are the contributors of the McSame and Sarah "Moose" Palin campaign. In the end of this investigation, ACORN would be cleared of any improprieties, and the sinister action's of the accusers will be brought to light.

    October 10, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  12. go away mongers- Ventura,CA

    Go ACORN! Don't give in to the idiotic republicans who REALLY caused this mess.
    This typical gop move is complete sleaze.
    They can't run on the issues, because they have already been proven wrong the last eight years!
    I believe the KARMA of 2000 and 2004 are going to come up BIG this November 4th, and the republican commandos will retreat to their rocks and crawl back under them.

    October 10, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  13. Owen

    I was watching a story on abc news 20/20 while ago. Titled ROCK THE VOTE, I wander what they would say if they visited there local nursing home on election day? CHECK IT OUT

    October 10, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  14. danger ahead

    There are none so blind as those who will not see. Your incredible contributions are being spent on copious amounts of advertising, which, of course, supports the very organizations providing the "coverage" of this election. Obama needs to be seriously scrutinized for his ties to ACORN, Ayres, and Rezco.

    October 10, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  15. Jerry in Missouri

    Just so you biased idiots know, I've made copies of my posts that you will not post (awaiting moderation) and I'm sending them to FOX News and maybe my Congressman. You are not a news outlet but a campaign center for the Democrats

    October 10, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  16. Tom

    Give me a break...Obama doesn't need to engage in the dirty politics the Republicans are so used to...he's wiping the floor with McCain! Who is behind in the polls? Who has more motive? Who (now) has a history of abusing power?

    October 10, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  17. David

    It is really amazing to see all of you Dems that think if obama is President that life is going to be wonderful. Everyone will be employed with a good job, the Stock Market will hit 15,000 points, every Child will get an education, gas will be $1.00 a gallon, your home will double in value and everything will be good, fine and wonderful. You will believe anything. He can not do all he is promising.

    October 10, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  18. Laura

    Obama paid ACORN $800,000 to register people for his campaign. He knows of their past history since he defended them. He knows that some have received fines and jail time for voter fraud. Why did Obama chose to use ACORN when he has so many willing volunteers? Is it maybe because he knows they will get him lots of votes even if they are illegitimate?

    Some questions that have been raised. It would be nice to get some answers. We won't though since Obama is so far ahead he feels he can just coast along to win.

    One question really on my mind is did ACORN help Obama cheat to win in caucus states against Hillary? I would like to know if ACORN had any part in registering people during the primary.

    Laura, Boston

    October 10, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  19. WM in Colorado

    ACORN is just the tip of the iceberg. Once in office you will see Obama begin the dismantling of this country little by little the end result that we will lose all of our freedoms. You will either be a member of the Obama Party or be left behind. Some people are concerned about our country becoming a socialist state.......well how about a dictatorship. It is on its way. This reminds me of the 1930s in Germany when their economy was in shambles and a savior arrived to save them as well.

    October 10, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  20. Bruce

    Ron L – don't fire them, prosecute them. Then look into who is pushing and backing this. Obama may not be directly involved but this smells like the Chicago political machine to me.

    It amazes me still that voters can even consider Obama. You know nothing about him except what he says – which rarely if ever is the way he votes in the senate. His experience level is zip zilch nothing – he spent the majority of his time in the US Senate running for President. That's how he feels about the American Public – you pay me to run for the next higher position while I ignore the responsibilities i already have in the Senate. If you do that at your job you will be fired – but he thinks it's good for him because he is better then you. You should pay him for his mere presence.

    As a 20+ year veteran, I wonder what I sacrificed my family years for. Was I protecting a country that is about to be a Socialist Republic? If so, I certainly wish I hadn't been gone from my famly for all those years. We could have accomplished this changeover by surrendering our freedom to someone else. The election of BO will be a slap in the face to all who have sacrificed to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States". Thanks to the media and the DNC for destroying the United staes as it was meant to be.

    October 10, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  21. Obama 08: white, female, 60 yr old supporter

    So are some of you bloggers promoting the idea that Obama would risk his run at the presidency by instructing people to illegally sign up dead and nonexistant??

    The man is a constitutional lawyer, graduate of Harvard and president of the law review. He certainly would have been much more clever if he wanted to pad the voters' list.

    After elections including this one of Republicans striking tens of thousands of Democrats, mainly poor and often black in order to win elections, it is laughable at the transparency of this phoney attack.

    The fact that the phoney registrations are checked and the voters names not added, proves the process here works!!

    October 10, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  22. Justin from CT


    October 10, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  23. Mike

    I am not a member of ACORN, but I was a volunteer for the Obama campaign involved in the voter registration drives here in Ohio. I can speak from personal experience that we were instructed to absolutely follow the rules and the laws. I never saw any evidence of padding or falsifying registration forms. Where there were questions on some forms, I would call the registree to confirm their information before turning the forms in to the Board of Election.

    From my first-hand experience, Obama's voter registration efforts were nothing but highly ethical.

    October 10, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  24. Gary

    Obama's campaign stated that they had not paid ANY money to ACORN. I'm sorry, but, what do you call $800,000 dollars? I saw the report on Larry King with the "Chief Organizer" of ACORN. It was plain to see that she was lying through her teeth! Tomorrow morning, all the head lines are going to be about Palin abusing her power as Gov of Alaska. I want to know why the headlines have not been about Obama lying about ACORN! If Obama does loose the election, I can just see the democratic party crying foul, but, when a voter registration is turned in for a fast food place,registering a democrat, how can anyone take it serious? The Democratic party is going to play up Sarah Palin's problems in Alaska but don't bring up ACORN and Obama in the same sentence! They will calll you racist!

    October 10, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  25. david

    Acorn is the biggest disgrace of our electorial system. Government should STOP funding and disband ACORN; therefore one problem of pork will be gone. As a democrat I feel that my party has left me behind.
    Remember folks look who has ties to ACORN and the center of this problem. I would like Obama come straight forward and tell the truth to the American people.
    This has been going on probaly during the primaries too. And scaring people in caucasas too.

    October 10, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
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