It’s an embarrassment and its a felony. Seven workers hired by ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) last fall to register voters in Washington State instead went to the Seattle Public Library and made up names and addresses.
You can read the Seattle Times story here “Seven charged in vote-fraud scheme” and the Seattle PI story here: “Voter-registration workers charged with submitting bogus registrations”
Of course the right wing will be endlessly using this to say “I told you”. The fact is that while some 1760 made up registrations were submitted to King County it turns out that there were no votes cast by these fraudulent registrations. It was not an attempt to steal an election or change the outcome of the vote.
It was really just an amateurish attempt by seven $8.00/hour workers to defraud ACORN out of contracted services. As stated in the Seattle PI article by Grergory Roberts:
“…the scheme had nothing to do with an attempt to manipulate elections and everything to do with the workers’ efforts to keep their $8-an-hour jobs, prosecutors said.
In fact, no votes were cast based on the more than 1,760 fraudulent registrations submitted by workers for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, interim Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said.
“The defendants … cheated their employers to get paid for work they did not actually perform,” Satterberg said. “The defendants simply realized that making up names was easier than actually canvassing the streets.”
Lazy is more like it – the canvassers only had a quota of getting 18 -20 new registrations every day. That’s like only 2-3 registrations an hour. ACORN has accepted responsibility also as they should. Where was the supervision and oversight? A quick look at the registration cards should have made it obvious that something was wrong – like the writing looked the same or “Wow you really registered former heavyweight boxer Leon Spinks and former Sonics basketball player Vin Baker as well as Denis Hastert? He was a former Republican Speaker of the House.
Election officials caught it and the system worked. As the Seattle PI noted:
In accordance with elections procedure, the registrations ACORN submitted were entered in the statewide electronic database of voters, but flagged to require proof of identification should anyone signed up by them attempt to vote. Officials then compared the names and other information with driver’s license and Social Security records and attempted to contact those voters when information did not match. Those attempts were fruitless, and officials Thursday removed 1,762 of the names from the rolls.”
Fraudulent signatures have also been a problem in initiative campaigns in the past. Without adequate pre-hiring screening or adequate supervision phony names can be signed onto petitions. Usually petition firms that pay by the signature will check signatures against voter registration rolls.
Maybe people running voter registration drives need to institute some type of random verification by supervisor’s that actual people signed the forms. Even laying cards out on a table and visually inspecting them would have prevented this embarrassment and negative publicity for an organization that has long worked the grassroots for social causes.