When the dam breaks …

Holy shitballs! What’s up with this Nevada ACORN voter fraud story? The Secretary of State’s office raided ACORN’s headquarters on Tuesday after an investigation into the group’s voter registration practices. ACORN says they’ve registered 80,000 people to vote in Nevada (a very, very high number compared with other orgs doing the same work) and have been trying to work with the Clark County Elections Department for six months, to no avail. But the SOS says that an unnamed number of those registrations are knowingly false.

“Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada, and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won’t be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4,” Miller said.

Miller said other voter registration forms used false names or information, or had duplicated information on multiple forms. Some of the forms were obvious frauds, [Secretary of State Ross] Miller said, but he did not give an estimate of how many fakes were submitted.

Yikes! That’s not looking so good for ACORN. It doesn’t help that the group was accused of voter fraud in Washington State last year (some workers were jailed and ACORN paid a $25,000 fine). This latest news is causing folks to distance themselves from ACORN every chance they get.

But I happen to know from my short time in the voter registration trenches this year that when one group is under the microscope, they all are. In July, Clark County Voter Registrar Larry Lomax openly stated that he thinks all organizations doing voter registration do questionable and often fraudulent work. That’s really not good to hear from Mr. Lomax.

All voter registration groups are not the same. ACORN pays their registrars PER FORM. Most organizations rely on volunteers (aka NOT paid) or they pay employees PER HOUR. Paying per completed registration form is an awfully tempting model for fraud. Let me be clear, ACORN has done some good things in Las Vegas. I have no knowledge of illegal or fraudulent activities on their part. But I think they have a questionable model for voter registration and it is leaving them open to problems like the one they’re in now.

But the Secretary of State and Elections Department aren’t guilt-free. Today the New York TImes listed Nevada as one of 6 swing states that have had problems with wrongfully purging registered voters. And they’ve certainly had a bad track-record of reinstating the rights of ex-felons to vote.

We knew this was coming! No matter which ticket you like, this is a historic election. I don’t know about other “battleground states” but here in Nevada we’ve been descended on for some months by organizations of all stripes trying to register voters and get what they want out of Nevada. With that much paper changing that many hands ugliness was bound to rear its head. Too many hands in the cookie jar!

The most important thing is that people have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote unimpeded. No matter what, let’s not lose sight of that.

2 thoughts on “When the dam breaks …

  1. From what I’ve heard ACORN screwed themselves over by setting impossible goals and firing canvassers who failed to meet those goals. It is illegal to pay people per registration because that inspires this very fraud. Unfortunately, ACORN worked around that by paying hourly, setting a quota, and firing you if you couldn’t turn in 20 registrations a day. Hence, people started filling in the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys because hey, in these dire economic conditions, people are trying like mad to scrounge up every buck they can.

    The main question is, why execute a search warrant on an organization that was open in its practices and forthright in bringing fraudulent registrations to the attention of the registrar? Why shame an organization when the real targets are the temporary employees who committed the crimes? Maybe Ross Miller wants to appear tough when he runs for Governor?

  2. ACORN paid by the hour, not per form. The quota was so many forms per hour, which is setting a goal for employees. It is not unreasonable and a practice employed by many businesses in the private sector, as well.
    The fact that this organization was hiring people who are low income and not making upwards of $25. an hour (like private business who also set quotas) makes them a target.
    I find the fact that people who should be supportive (the Democratic Party) and are distancing themselves pretty despicable.
    If they had not come forward in the first place their practices could be questioned. But they did come forward. Beware of Larry Lomax. He is not our friend!

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