McCain and the Republicans have been sounding a few notes over and over and over, hoping that voters won’t think about important issues like the economy or the global financial crisis. Mostly, they’re just plain silly, laughable, even—except the subtext is so serious.
Republicans’ current favourite obsession is “voter fraud” and ACORN’s independent voter registration efforts in particular (the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party have official registration efforts, and they don’t include ACORN). McCain and the Republicans keep talking about “voter fraud”, which is incorrect; they actually mean to allege “registration fraud”, though even that’s dumb.
The fact is, various states' laws require groups like ACORN to turn in all voter registration forms, even ones they know to be false (like if someone puts “Mickey Mouse” as their name). So, ACORN itself flags registrations that it thinks are questionable, and that’s how authorities find the possibly false registrations. However—and this is the most important point of all—there’s absolutely no evidence that anyone has ever tried to cast a vote in the name of one of the false registrations.
The Republicans have long been obsessed with “vote fraud”. Remember that it led to one of Bush’s impeachable offences when he ordered the firing of US attorneys when they wouldn’t file false “vote fraud” charges against Democrats. Their goal is vote suppression, keeping certain people from voting: Young people, the poor, and especially racial minorities. These are all presumed to be predominately Democrats, and these are the people ACORN focused on. So, by discrediting ACORN they have cover for their efforts to suppress the votes of the kinds of people ACORN registered, thereby helping McCain and the Republicans.
The irony is that allegations have emerged that Republicans have their own false registration scandal. According to the Los Angeles Times, a company called YPM was hired by the California Republican Party (and the state parties in other states) to register Republican voters. The paper says YPM used bait and switch tactics to fool voters into changing their registration to Republican or, far more seriously, absentee (meaning they may not be able to vote on election day).
The paper reported, “The Times randomly interviewed 46 of the hundreds of voters whose election records show they were recently re-registered as Republicans by YPM, and 37 of them—more than 80%—said that they were misled into making the change or that it was done without their knowledge.” That percentage is far too high to be mere coincidence as it defies probability. There are also allegations against the company in several other states.
So, the Republicans campaign against supposed false voter registrations (and deliberately deceptively call it “voter fraud”), while at the same time their officially hired registrars are caught doing what they condemn ACORN for. The goal, however, is the same: To suppress potential Democratic votes.
And that’s why they’re so obsessed with ACORN. Too bad their own hands aren’t clean on this issue.
Update 21/10/08: The owner of YPM, the firm hired by Republicans to register voters, has been arrested and charged in California with voter registration fraud and perjury. According to Reuters, "Mark Jacoby is accused of fraudulently registering himself to vote at a Los Angeles address where he no longer resides—his boyhood home—to meet a state law requiring all signature gatherers to register or be eligible to vote in California… He did this twice, in 2006 and 2007, according to a statement issued by the California secretary of state…" Do I even have to point out that no such senior leader of ACORN has ever been similarly charged?