pageok
pageok
pageok
ACORN's Registration Quotas & Their Consequences:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on a man who was registered to vote 73 times.

Johnson and another prolific registrant were subpoenaed to testify at a meeting Monday as the Elections Board continued its look at possible fraud by ACORN, a national organization that tries to get low- and moderate-income people to register. ACORN's methods have drawn interest in a number of states this presidential election year.

Johnson, 19, said he mostly was trying to help ACORN workers who begged him to sign up because they needed to keep their jobs.

"They'd come up with a sob story why they needed the signature," said Johnson, of Garfield Heights.

ACORN leaders have acknowledged that workers paid by the hour were given quotas to fill.

Of course registration fraud and actual voter fraud are not the same thing, but registration fraud creates the potential for voter fraud, particularly by absentee ballot, and it may be happening in Cuyahoga County.

Investigators probing ACORN have learned that an Ohio man registered to vote several times and cast a bogus ballot with a fake address, officials said yesterday, as they revealed that nearly 4,000 registration applications supplied by the left-leaning activist group were suspect.

The vote of Darnell Nash, one of four people subpoenaed in a Cuyahoga County probe of ACORN's voter-registration activities, was canceled and his case was turned over to local prosecutors and law enforcement, Board of Elections officials said yesterday.

Nash had registered to vote repeatedly from an address that belonged to a legitimately registered voter, officials said during a hearing at which the subpoenaed voters were to testify.

Board officials had contacted Nash this summer, questioned his address and told him to stop repeat registering.

But still, he breezed into Ohio election offices - the state allows early voting for president - reregistered with a fake address and cast a paper ballot, officials said.

Blar (mail) (www):
Is Johnson's case even registration fraud? Accurately filling out 73 registration forms with the same info is not fraud - it's no different than filling out one registration form, except for the extra work created for the election board.

And it doesn't look like you can pin Nash's case on ACORN. He filed his false registration in person at the election offices before attempting to vote.
10.14.2008 9:49am
JB:
ACORN's policies remind me of the subprime mortgage lending process--bad incentives that could not be designed to be more likely to produce utter garbage.

I volunteered with them once, and based on that experience I would pin their problems on incompetence rather than malice. They pay jack, are an unpleasant place to work, and therefore get incompetent administrators who don't or can't see how their policies suck, and can't be bothered to crack down on this sort of thing (especially since, like with execs of subprime-issuing banks, their numbers are inflated by these additional registrations).

Maybe there is some partisan election-throwing bias, just like maybe some mortgage lenders were out to swindle their customers. But most of the problem is misaligned incentives nobody's smart or motivated enough to fix.
10.14.2008 9:59am
PhanTom:
I'm curious how ACORN is supposed to deal with registration fraud. As I understand it, it is illegal for them to not transmit every completed registration form they receive to the election board. Indeed, it would be a bad thing if they could simply trash all registrations where the party affiliation was Republican. On the other hand, if they get blamed for turning in false applications.

Is there a correct answer for this Hobson's choice.

--PtM
10.14.2008 10:03am
gerbilsbite:
Look, PhanTom is absolutely correct. You can't run a field program without setting a minimum standard for employees to meet, or without a mechanism for quality control. In ACORN's case, QC is only possible ex post, since they're required (rightly) to turn in all registration forms they receive. Otherwise, you could have a group collecting registrations, trashing ones for the other party, and the voter would be left unaware.

Now, I guaran-damn-tee you that any field worker regularly or intentionally turning in false applications is going to get his ass fired (after all, that's basically a fraud against ACORN, since they're paying for a legitimate service that isn't being delivered). But this effort to claim an operator-level problem that's inherent in any registration drive is an intentional conspiracy of epic proportions is a joke. And Rick Hasen, as usual, is exactly right about this.
10.14.2008 10:13am
JRNev (mail):
Perhaps a partisan political organization aren't the best choice to get out the vote? Thanks to ACORN, a close vote in several states will be suspect. This will lead to wasted fighting over who really won, like 2000. On the other hand, this will hopefully convince enough people that requiring some sort of ID to vote is a good idea.
10.14.2008 10:14am
Hoosier:
As I posted on another thread, I was rather stunned by ACORN's people with whom I came into contact while living in Chicago in the 1980s. "It doesn't matter what name you sign" to a petition.

But gerbilsbite's point that this may be an "operator-level" problem may be accurate: I couldn't say. If so, ACORN really does need to do a better job of overseeing its employees, since this has been going on for quite some time.

Let's stipulate: Cook County is always sui generis. Until recently, I had just wtritten ACORN's problems off as being those of an organization with very close ties to the Cook County Democratic Party. Now I'm beginning to wonder. I know Cayahoga County politics fairly well; that's where I acquired Mrs. Hooiser. But I'd call the politics of the North Coast more weird than corrupt to the core. Have I been naive?
10.14.2008 10:21am
Hoosier:
Clarification: I had written off ACORN's actions in Chicago . . .
10.14.2008 10:22am
Federal Dog:
"Of course registration fraud and actual voter fraud are not the same thing, but registration fraud creates the potential for voter fraud, particularly by absentee ballot, and it may be happening in Cuyahoga County."

Even in the case of in person voting, it's hard to see how voting fraud could effectively be contested. If fraudulent registrations have been filed for a number of polling districts, someone with knowledge of that fact could go from district to district and vote under that name. In many places, poll workers are not allowed to ask for identification. That means that to identify any fraudulent voter, someone must happen to be present at each polling place when the person arrives to vote and: (1) know that person's true identity; (2) know the identity under which the person is demanding to vote; and (3) lodge a complaint with the secretary of state (or county voting officials) stating that knowledge and demanding investigation.

I would imagine that the person committing vote fraud would then promptly deny it, reducing the matter to two conflicting accounts.

Even positing that all of this, by happenstance, occurs, multiple this scenario by thousands. The inquiry process would immediately tax the resources of voting officials to, in practical terms, obviate prosecution.

Safeguarding the registration process is therefore key to safeguarding any integrity that may be left to the voting process. I am, for this reason, wholly unimpressed by repeated claims that there is relatively scant proof of fraudulent voting. That's the whole point: Once fraudulent registration is in place, the public cannot reasonably bear the burden of proving it enough to produce that evidence.
10.14.2008 10:24am
pbf (mail) (www):
Isn't it interesting that all this news of registration fraud is following precisely the script David Iglesias criticized in commenting on the call for a special prosecutor to investigate his and other U.S. Attorneys' firings? The Republicans ramp up the news of these accusations right before an election, the media and Republicans start screaming about ACORN, and yet there's never any evidence of any VOTING fraud. So, Jon, you're being a bit disingenuous when you write, "Of course registration fraud and actual voter fraud are not the same thing, but registration fraud creates the potential for voter fraud, particularly by absentee ballot, and it may be happening in Cuyahoga County."

It would be a hell of a lot more convincing a case if (1) there were any material instances of voting fraud in our recent history and (2) the entire episode didn't seem to be a repeat of the tactics that led to Gonzales's departure from DOJ.
10.14.2008 10:34am
JosephSlater (mail):
Thanks to ACORN, a close vote in several states will be suspect.

Respectfully, no, not if you understand the difference between registration fraud and voting fraud. I understand, though, that the Fox News meme right now is to try to cast doubt on the election their favored party seems likely to lose.

On the other hand, recent polls indicate an increasing possibility that this election won't be particularly close, as 2000 and 2004 were. So maybe the non-issue will be moot.
10.14.2008 10:46am
Hoosier:
pbf: Is this a general rule for you? Do you mean to imply that registration fraud is not a reliable indicator of a desire to commit voting fraud?

Is a burning fuse a good indicator that there's a bomb?
10.14.2008 10:46am
Federal Dog:
pbf:

Again, as stated in my above post, the current voting process virtually obviates the possibility of proving vote fraud. I believe that is why the battles over ID at the polls are so pitched. If the process virtually obviates evidence of vote fraud, it is not surprising that there is scant evidence of vote fraud.
10.14.2008 10:48am
JosephSlater (mail):
I'm not pbf, but I'll say that registration fraud is not, in fact, an indicator of desire to commit voting fraud. As noted above, ACORN's model is to demand a quota of registrations, which creates an incentive for some ACORN employees to make stuff names up so they can get paid.

It's not a good thing, but there are no "real people" here who are plotting to actually vote under fake names.
10.14.2008 10:50am
erics (mail):
JRNev:
This election is not going to be close, so don't worry.
10.14.2008 10:54am
Houston Lawyer:
Why don't we just keep the names of dead people and people who moved on the list, it's not like anyone would try to cast votes for them.

It should be illegal for anyone, other than the voter registering, to fill out a voter registration form or to have possession of that form if they are not the official responsible for registering that person. Sure, hand out all the forms you want, but anything a partisan organization does with forms after that point will be fraught with conflicts of interest.
10.14.2008 10:57am
JRNev (mail):
It's not a good thing, but there are no "real people" here who are plotting to actually vote under fake names.
------
On the other hand, recent polls indicate an increasing possibility that this election won't be particularly close, as 2000 and 2004 were. So maybe the non-issue will be moot.

I hope you're right. But can you see how a close race and butterfly ballots produced "selected and not elected"?
10.14.2008 10:58am
pbf (mail) (www):
What about the fact too that this spike in the investigation of and prosecution of registration fraud is so consistent with the b.s. patterns that David Iglesias has said led to his firing? He was told to pursue these types of voter fraud cases and found no evidence to support them. That's why he says he was fired.

There's another burning fuse for you, Hoosier.
10.14.2008 10:59am
RBG (mail):
For all those defending ACORN, particularly on the grounds that they have to turn in all the registration forms they receive, how do you explain the massive numbers of fraudulent registration forms and the stories we're hearing about ACORN workers actively soliciting forms from people they know are already registered. I mean, really, it's no defense to say that ACORN has to submit every form it receives if it knowingly solicits registrations from people who are either already registered, from dead people, or from people ineligible to vote. Can't you at least acknowledge that?
10.14.2008 10:59am
wfjag:
Maybe the courts will moot the issue by discovering a new constitutional right -- one person, many votes.
10.14.2008 10:59am
Hoosier:
pbf: There's another burning fuse for you, Hoosier.

So your answer to my questions is "Hey! Wait! Look over there!"?
10.14.2008 11:07am
Al Maviva:
I'd probably try to prosecute an organization that had a lot of individual employees in different places around the country breaking the law in a similar manner. The excuse, "it was just individual employee action" only goes so far when the amazing coincidences start piling up. The general idea is to lean heavily on those unrelated individuals who amazingly, coincidentally decided to do the exact same illegal thing at the exact same time, and try to figure out who or what inspired them to do that. While there is such a thing as a coincidence, a pattern of lawbreaking of the type we're starting to see is often the result of a conspiracy.

And, pbf, what exactly is "material" fraud? I've always been under the impression that any fraud is actually illegal. Where exactly is the materiality element written into 18 U.S.C.? Is it a general clause pertaining to all federal crimes, for instance permitting immaterial security fraud, immaterial accounting fraud, or immaterial battery? Or is the materiality clause specific to some fraud statute, permitting minor fraud but drawing the line at major fraud?
10.14.2008 11:14am
pbf (mail) (www):
My point is that if you give me a set of facts and ask me to explain them I can, but it's not in the way you want. David Iglesias claims that there was no evidence to prosecute similar claims as voting fraud and that the push from Republicans to do so in order to inflame fears of such fraud shortly before elections. He claims he was fired for refusing to give in to that pressure. Mukasey has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the U.S. Attorney hirings and has singled out Iglesias as seeming the most blatantly improper hiring.

So I'm saying that if a Republican U.S. Attorney found allegations similarly timed illegitimate, there seems a distinct possibility these allegations are as well.
10.14.2008 11:15am
Sarcastro (www):
Clearly, ACORN's policies have bad consequences! This can ONLY come about due to conscious effort!

Thus, I can only assume ACORN is full of filthy Communists with no respect for the law. My working theory is it is filled with actual clones of Obama spliced with Hitler. As of yet, no one has disproved this.

Of course, this means I also blame capitalism for creating incentives for fraud, but I can't stay mad at that economic system. That would be silly.
10.14.2008 11:18am
pbf (mail) (www):
Sorry -- the push from Republicans to do so was intended to inflame fears of voter fraud shortly before elections.
10.14.2008 11:19am
Federal Dog:
"It's not a good thing, but there are no "real people" here who are plotting to actually vote under fake names."

How do you know? This looks like a statement of faith.

For what it's worth, my above posts are based on discussion that arose a few years back. At that time, there were a series of demonstrations demanding rights for illegal aliens. Here, in Boston, those demonstrations featured signs saying: "TODAY WE MARCH, TOMORROW WE VOTE!"

At those demonstrations, numerous representatives of groups like ACORN were out registering people to vote. It was unclear whether the people they were registering were illegals.

That raised the question of how voting officials knew whether the people being registered could legally vote. It turns out that they did not, and could not, know. No proof of citizenship is required: The only thing that is required is a signed statement certifying eligibility to vote. Signing that statement when the signer knew (s)he was ineligible to vote could result in legal action.

At which point the question arose: Well, how would anyone know, once the registration is in place, which voters were legal, and which voters were not legal? It was then explained that people who happened to be present at the polling place, knew that a particular person could not legally vote, and filed a complaint furnishing proof of that voter's ineligibility would offer grounds on which to contest any vote fraud. That was the safeguard of the franchise.

What are the chances that anyone who happened to be present at a polling place could possibly have knowledge of another person's legal status? And even if someone did, the allegation of unlawful voting is easily denied.

In short, until the registration process is taken seriously, the vote itself is hopelessly cast into reasonable doubt.
10.14.2008 11:22am
MartyH (mail):
Say there's a young ambitious lawyer who led on a voter drive that registered 150,000 new voters.

Say that four years later, that same young lawyer is running for a State Senate seat, and four other people present enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. In two cases, more than twice as many votes as required were submitted.

Said young lawyer challenges all four candidates' signatures and drives them all from the ballot, allowing him to run unopposed in the primary and win the safe seat.

Did said young lawyer file away observations from his voter registration drive that led him to believe that a challenge of his opponents' signatures would be successful?
10.14.2008 11:23am
Deoxy (mail):
Has anyone noticed that ACORN has been in the news for stuff like this in the last 2 elections as well? They've been caught doing all kinds of stuff (in one instance, IIRC, they WERE caught pitching the Republican forms - somebody have a link on that one?).

How about busing people in from another state? There are documented cases of that, too (from Chicago to Ohio, IIRC).

And you want "material instances of voting fraud in our recent history"? Check out the 2004 governor's election in Washington state. In specific, King county kept coming up with more and more ballots as the recounts went on, ending up with a few thousandmore ballots than voters.

And that's without the ongoing national joke of the dead voting in Chicago.
10.14.2008 11:31am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It would be difficult to prosecute a non-existent person who voted. Finding him would be the first hurdle.
The folks who claim that registration fraud means nothing are fooling themselves, presuming they actually believe it, which is unbelievable.
10.14.2008 11:39am
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Indeed, it would be a bad thing if they could simply trash all registrations where the party affiliation was Republican.


Were you born yesterday?
10.14.2008 11:45am
Blar (mail) (www):
RBG asked: how do you explain ... the stories we're hearing about ACORN workers actively soliciting forms from people they know are already registered

The Post article mentions "two voters who said they were hounded by ACORN workers to register over and over." I'd explain those two stories as cases where 1, 2, or possibly more irresponsible ACORN employees wanted to pad their registration numbers and didn't care about registering more voters. Do you have a different explanation? Is there a reason why ACORN leadership would want to turn in several registration forms from the same voter? If it was part of a scheme to commit electoral fraud then it was some inept scheming, since turning in multiple identical registration forms will only result in one registration going on the voter rolls.
10.14.2008 11:48am
DDG:
Why don't we just use the inked fingers some third-world countries use?
10.14.2008 11:52am
Hoosier:
MartyH--Oh, you and your hypotheticals.
10.14.2008 11:52am
arg11 (mail):
The ACORN-bashing schtick is the most inept, dishonest move yet by the Republicans. I'll only say it once: REGISTERING FAKE VOTERS IS NOT VOTER FRAUD. IT IS ONLY FRAUD IF THOSE PEOPLE SUCCEED IN VOTING. ACORN's lists are checked by ACORN, suspected frauds are flagged, and then the results are sent to election board officials who recheck them. If there is a fraud, they are not allowed to vote. Plain and simple. Having worked for a similar organization, I will freely admit that working for commission is one of the most miserable ways to work, because it forces you to badger people until they are angry. But that's a labor issue, not a voter registration issue. If Republicans didn't block it, we could have automatic registration (the government knows who is a citizen and who isn't) like they do in other nations. Then ACORN wouldn't be necessary.
10.14.2008 11:58am
wfjag:

Houston Lawyer:
Why don't we just keep the names of dead people and people who moved on the list, it's not like anyone would try to cast votes for them.

Bring back "Landslide Lyndon"?
10.14.2008 12:00pm
loki13 (mail):
Here's the deal-

We're going to keep hearing these stories, because there's a market for these ACORN stories, and a supply for these stories. It helps the narrative.

If Obama wins, ACORN stole the vote.

If McCain manages to win, we can start back on Diebold (or whatever the company renamed themselves) and purged voters.

Blah blah blah. All of you are miserable tinfoilers that hurt our country. As for the original post, the first response had it right.

First anecdote: about voter registration and ACORN.

Second anecdote: about voter fraud and not about ACORN.

Also note that the second anecdote dealt with absentee ballots, which are never disscussed and are the primary means of accomplishing what little voter fraud occurs. This is not investigated because, until now, absentee ballots trend GOP. As this changes, I expect to hear increasing calls for clampdowns on absentee ballots given to the poor.

Yet the anecdotes got lumped together.
10.14.2008 12:00pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
What a bunch of jokers. Arguing about whether or not registration fraud leads to voter fraud. Trotting out all the old liberal arguments:

It's a minor problem.
They can't help it.
They didn't know.
The Republicans do it too.
etc.

The only missing argument, so far, is "Bush is evil." Dolts. What matters, what always matters, is effect.

ACORN is an activist left-wing organization funded by Democrats for Democratic Party benefit. No matter the procedural details, as an organiztion it exhibits massive dishonesty, has done so for years and will continue to do so because desired effects are being achieved. They are deliberately incentivizing outcomes that are rife with fraud of one kind or another, and deliberate fraud is indefensible. All stop.
10.14.2008 12:02pm
PC:
10.14.2008 12:05pm
Anon21:
Even in the case of in person voting, it's hard to see how voting fraud could effectively be contested. If fraudulent registrations have been filed for a number of polling districts, someone with knowledge of that fact could go from district to district and vote under that name. In many places, poll workers are not allowed to ask for identification. That means that to identify any fraudulent voter, someone must happen to be present at each polling place when the person arrives to vote and: (1) know that person's true identity; (2) know the identity under which the person is demanding to vote; and (3) lodge a complaint with the secretary of state (or county voting officials) stating that knowledge and demanding investigation.

Josh Marshall had a good post up recently explaining the problem with this sort of direct causal reasoning between registration fraud and actual voting fraud. Basically, you'd need massive coordination between a fake registration drive and a massive effort to get out the fake vote. To actually swing an election with any degree of certainty, you'd have to be sending out tens, if not hundreds of thousands of volunteers or employees, which means you already know what fake or outdated registrations are available in each precinct. Given that what we're seeing in ACORN's case is piecemeal fraud by low-level employees, making up names to get themselves paid, the idea that someone actually knows what all these fake names are, and where to send their army of fake voters, is inherently incredible.

So, given the massive practical problems facing an organized voter fraud campaign, and given the lack of evidence for anything more than a miniscule number of cases of actual voter fraud, I think the burden is still very much on those who assert voter fraud is possible or actually happening to prove their case.
10.14.2008 12:09pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Peter (pbf) -

If you don't think there are real examples of vote fraud, you're not paying attention. While there are relatively few examples of documented in-person voter fraud, there are ample examples of absentee voter fraud, which can be facilitated by voter registration fraud. My favorite example (and the one that first got me interested in this issue because I wrote about it at the time) was the stealing of Pennsylvania's second district state senate seat in 1994, through (among other things) fraudulent and coerced absentee ballots. Then there was the use of fraudulent absentee ballots to steal a mayoral election in Miami, and there was the rampant fraud in the 2003 mayoral election in East Chicago, Indiana that resulted in 53 indictments and 38 convictions (see, e.g., here and here). There are also current investigations related to voter fraud in Alabama and elsewhere.

As for whether any of this could happen in Cuyahoga County, I've already linked to the CPD story quoting county election officials saying they believe fraudulent and duplicate registrations will not compromise the election results. On the other hand, the second article linked above notes one case of an individual casting a "bogus ballot" -- a ballot that was only caught because election officials had already identified him as a multiple registrant -- and that his case has been referred to local prosecutors. Voter registration fraud can facilitate actual voter fraud, especially if there is no ID requirement. In Hoboken, NJ, for instance, there are allegations that individuals were paid to vote as other people.

Is voter fraud today rampant enough to compromise close elections? I hope not, but raising the issue is hardly part of a partisan conspiracy.

JHA
10.14.2008 12:14pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
In other ACORN news, Obama's web site has changed its story about ACORN.
10.14.2008 12:14pm
Bill Twist:

Having worked for a similar organization, I will freely admit that working for commission is one of the most miserable ways to work, because it forces you to badger people until they are angry. But that's a labor issue, not a voter registration issue.


The answer would seem to be simple, then: Require that voter registration drives be unpaid, volunteer efforts.

Paying people to go out and actively seek to register voters seems to me to be just *ASKING* for trouble. Paying them on a per registered voter would be just compounding the problem.

Maybe we could use Obama's suggestion that we require 50 hours of community slave labor from our youth to perform this valuable service. I can't wait to have the voter rolls full of 'Dick Hertz', 'Hugh Jass', and 'Heywood Jablowme' (though I suspect they are actually probably already registered multiple times!).
10.14.2008 12:19pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Obama praised Acorn's efforts in November. I presume he knew all about the fake registrations, but also knew the massive practical problems associeted with a voter fraud effort placed the burden of proof on those who don't think Mickey Muse should be registered.
10.14.2008 12:25pm
pbf (mail) (www):
Jonathan -- I wasn't accusing you of being part of a partisan conspiracy. I was suggesting that the qualifications you made (registration fraud does not equal voter fraud, registration fraud holds the "potential" of causing voting fraud, and voting fraud "may" be happening in our county) are important, and they seem even more so in light of the absence of "MATERIAL" voter fraud (my word; if there were never voter fraud I'd be shocked, even as I'd be shocked if there were never fraud in the markets) and in light of the identity between today's allegations and those in 2004.

From the AG's report on the U.S. Attorney firings:

At 182: With respect to the allegation that an ACORN worker was responsible for a significant number of false voter registrations, the FBI identified and interviewed the worker in question. As a result of the investigation, the USAO
and the Public Integrity Section jointly concluded that there was insufficient evidence of criminal intent on the subject's part to justify prosecution. Iglesias told us that he viewed this case as the strongest one to come out of the Task Force, but that the evidence nevertheless did not justify going forward with a criminal prosecution.

Do the latest allegations justify prosecution for voting fraud. There is a possiblity. They may. I just think that the likelihood of any convictions is very, very low. But time will tell.
10.14.2008 12:29pm
DiverDan (mail):
pbf, like so many Dems, repeats the tired old (demonstrably false) mantra:


and yet there's never any evidence of any VOTING fraud.


It seems that pbf didn't even bother to reads this post, as it cited the case of Nash, one of only 4 people subpoenaed by Cuyahoga County, who admitted casting a fraudulent ballot. Now, of course, pbf will reply "But that's only one case .. you can't prove that it's endemic!" But I will get exactly the same response if I cite 5 cases, 100 cases, or 10,000 cases. The fact is that, because of the logistics of voting, without rooting out registration fraud, it will be impossible to find even 1% of the cases of voting fraud. But pdf and his cohorts are unconcerned about that, for the very simple reason that they hope to benefit from the fraudulent votes. Maybe if Cuyahoga County made an example of Nash and sent him to prison for life without parole for a single fraudulent vote, the deterrent effect might be sufficient to stop this nonsense.
10.14.2008 12:39pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
How dare ACORN try to find poor, disenfranchised people who haven't voted and help them register? We'd all be better off if we had an attitude more like this:

I don't see what's so wrong with property requirements for voting; should people with no ties to a community and who pay nothing in taxes be allowed to vote to impose taxes on others?
10.14.2008 12:40pm
josh:
Jonathan:

I have to say I find the potential for voter fraud concerning as well. But so too is the voter-roll purging that the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law calls "chaotic," "shrouded in secrecy", "riddled with inaccuracies", "prone to error" and "vulnerable to manipulation."

Do you think perhaps you could address affirmative measures to rid voter rolls of legitimate voters and how that fits in to your concern for the legitimacy of this voting cycle?

Also, I was wondering if you could expand a bit more on the issue. I was wondering whether you feel that registering eligible voters who have not voted in the past is a good thing generally. If so, could you, as a law academic usually does, propose a system in which that goal could be accomplished without running afoul of the issues that so concern you?

Thanks
10.14.2008 12:43pm
josh:
Oh, and the Brennan Center's report on purging voter rolls can be found here:

http://brennan.3cdn.net/08a454912ec28b6c6b_fam6bqsnl.pdf
10.14.2008 12:44pm
Federal Dog:
"I think the burden is still very much on those who assert voter fraud is possible or actually happening to prove their case."


The case for the possibility of vote fraud has already been made. It's hard to see how anyone reasonably denies that the possibility exists. Which is why people resort to claiming that there is no actual problem for lack of evidence of a widespread problem.

My point is that the process itself overwhelmingly obviates the possibility of gathering evidence of vote fraud. It is thus unreasonable to demand evidence of a widespread problem when people know full well the system overwhelmingly obviates the possibility of gathering that evidence. But see, e.g., Jonathan Adler's comments in the thread above.

Finally, "tens" of fraudulent voters do not constitute an "army," and both can and have, as noted above,
suffice(d) to steal elections. I see no reasonable objection to taking modest measures to preclude that from happening again.
10.14.2008 12:46pm
EricPWJohnson (mail):
Clarification?

The fact someone does not have a domicle in their name should not exclude them from voting is this correct?

The fact that a political group is aggressively pursuing voter registration does not necessarily preclude that fraud is prevalant or does it?

Individual paid contractors and employees can be fraudulent but in light of any evidence that this behavior has been mandated by either ACORN or the DNC or by Obama For President, then I am not convinced that this is a threat to our freedoms and the outcome of the election.

And no I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a Obama supporter.
10.14.2008 12:53pm
MartyH (mail):
Hoosier-

Glad you understood what I was getting at.

I'll be a little less subtle in explaining why voter registration fraud might matter.

A guy works with ACORN to register voters. In doing so, he notices that half of the names that they submit are fraudulent. He does nothing about it.

Later, he runs for office. His rivals gather plenty of signatures, but they use ACORN to collect those signatures. Knowing that half of their signatures are going to be illegimate, he challenges their signatures and forces them off the ballot, winning the seat by default.

Is that a fair election?
10.14.2008 1:05pm
PC:
Federal Dog, are you similarly concerned about electronic voting machines? The thing that has always struck me about charges of conspiracy is that the larger the group of people needed to commit a crime without detection, the less likely it is the crime will be successful. In order to commit vote fraud by using mass registration fraud seems like it would require numerous people and coordination. To commit voter fraud using certain models of electronic voting machines would require significantly less effort than that.
10.14.2008 1:06pm
josh:
MartyH:

"A guy works with ACORN to register voters. In doing so, he notices that half of the names that they submit are fraudulent. He does nothing about it."

My understanding is that this is incorrect. Didn't ACORN's self-reporting lead the very investigation Adler cites in his post?
10.14.2008 1:14pm
commontheme (mail):
And, again, we have to keep in mind that many of the people that ACORN registers are poor and/or minorities and we all know what a threat to democracy that is!
10.14.2008 1:42pm
tinfoil hat:
Premier Election Solutions was formerly known as Diebold Election Systems. It is a subsidiary of Diebold.

Here is an extract from a letter from the Butler County (Ohio) Board of Elections to Premier. It was obtained by the Middletown Journal, and published accompanying their article, “County finds 'serious' problem as votes initially uncounted” (Apr 9, 2008):


[Butler County Board of Elections letterhead]

April 4, 2008

Mr. Dave Byrd, President
Premier Election Solutions
3570 Forest Lake Drive
Uniontown, OH 44685

Dear Mr. Byrd,

We are writing this letter to you by direction of our Board with a copy to Jennifer Brunner, Ohio Secretary of State. The Butler County Board of Elections has discovered a serious problem in the GEMS program provided by Premier Elections Solutions.

On election night, March 4, 2008, [...]

It is simply unacceptable for errors of this kind to be occurring. A situation of this nature could impact any election. It may appear that every vote has been counted when cards indicate they are being properly uploaded, when in fact votes cast on a memory card(s) are not tabulated in the results. [...]

(Emphasis added.)

Premier initially claimed that this fault was caused by anti-virus software loaded onto the election machines.

This is just one example out of numerous documented incidents. The most recent well-documented incidents that I personally am aware of, though, does involve a different vendor: Sequoia. Just google for what's happening in Florida. It isn't pretty.
10.14.2008 1:45pm
MartyH (mail):
Josh-

Let me lay it out for you.

The following are undisputed facts:

1) In 1992, Obama led Project Vote in Chicago, a voter registration drive that added 150,000 registered voters.

2) In 1996, Obama challenged the signatures of all four of his opponents for the Democratic safe seat that he ended up winning.

So much for the facts.

My question is, where did Obama get the idea to challenge the signatures of all four of his opponents? He had to disqualify over 60% of the signatures of one opponent; over 50% of another; and over 40% of a third.

Did he observe as the leader of Project Vote that the paid signature gathering process was a joke? Was that what led him to challenge all four of his opponents signatures?

Regardless of those questions, a rampantly fraudulent signature gathering process gave Obama his entry into elected office.
10.14.2008 1:45pm
VA attorney:
gerbilsbite:

But you assume that Acorn's only goal is to register elligble (Democratic) voters who were previously not registered. What if another goal is to disrupt the process so that registrars throw up their hands and let anyone that walks in vote, because it is too difficult to figure out which registrations are accurate? Or if another goal is to delegitimize the election process such that strategically filed court challenges to election outcomes (say, against Republican winners in close races) raise questions in the public's mind about "stolen elections" in specific districts?

It seems clear that many liberal activist groups want to move toward on the spot registration and voting, both done on election day, without the requirement of showing ID. (As ruled OK by a court in Ohio in the presidential campaign recently.) If mail-in registration is found to be rife with fraud, why not institute such a change? However, if it is instituted, what is to stop dishonest people from voting in multiple precincts on election day?
10.14.2008 1:50pm
pete (mail) (www):
One other thing is that this registration fraud is playing havoc on registration offices. I read about the Indiana office that rejected 5000 ACORN registrations after the first 2100 turned out to be bogus and I am pretty sure that not going over each one and notifying the person trying to registrer that their registration was rejected is a violation of the "Motor Voter" sct.

IANAL. but according to this DOJ webpage, Section 8 of the law says (bold mine):

The Act deems as timely those valid voter registration applications by eligible applicants submitted to designated state and local officials, or postmarked if submitted by mail, at least 30 days before a federal election. The Act also requires notification of all applicants of whether their voter registration applications were accepted or rejected. The Act requires States to keep voter registration lists accurate and current, such as identifying persons who have become ineligible due to having died or moved outside the jurisdiction. At the same time, the Act requires list maintenance programs to incorporate specific safeguards, e.g., that they be uniform, non-discriminatory, in compliance with the Voting Rights Act, and not be undertaken within 90 days of a federal election.


It is really easy to register to vote. You can go to a public library, government benfits office, DMV, etc. to get a registration card or you can call up the registrar to registar by mail.
10.14.2008 1:56pm
Sarcastro (www):

Where did Obama get the idea to challenge the signatures of all four of his opponents?


I can think of only 2 explanations for Obama using election laws to win elections.

1. He's some sort of psychic evil genius and peered into his opponents' dark souls.
2. He totally knew there is always fraud when Democrats are involved cause he's a fraud-ridden Democrat.

Nope, no other reason for this!

If Republicans lose the election, I hope they are all secure it was stolen and keep complaining about it for the next 4-8 years!
10.14.2008 2:09pm
PC:
VA attorney, you are concocting a nice conspiracy theory there. Do you have any proof? And if that is ACORN's goal, why do so many Republicans support the organization and its efforts?
10.14.2008 2:33pm
Inkmiser (mail):
The Buckeye Institute field a lawsuit today against ACORN alleging RICO violations. It seeks all manner of relief. The case was filed in Warren County, Ohio. Warren County is one the two southwestern counties in Ohio which is widely credited for delivering the Buckeye State to President Bush in 2004.
10.14.2008 2:39pm
MartyH (mail):
Sarcastro-

There are two potential explanations for how Obama got four opponents forced off the ballot in 1996.

1) He got lucky. Using the fact that just over 1/4 of aldermanic challenges succeed in Chicago, the odds of all four candidates being forced off the ballot are about six in a thousand. Your odds of flipping heads seven times in a row are better.

2) The paid signature gathering process is corrupt.

The second is the more plausible explanation. Whether Obama knew that the paid signature gathering process was corrupt (as I suspect) or not, the corruption of the signature gathering process led to his gaining that seat.

If signature gatherers had behaved ethically and done what they were paid to do, that election would have been contested, and Palmer probably would have won.

Again, the corruption of the signature gathering process led to Obama getting his first elected position.

Chicago Tribune story: http://tinyurl.com/4juv5s
10.14.2008 2:42pm
Sarcastro (www):
PC

But it makes too much sense NOT to be true!

Ask me sometime about my theory about Sauramon being a Decepticon some time. It explains everything!
10.14.2008 2:45pm
gerbilsbite:
VA Attorney: if that can be demonstrated, there's a case for conspiracy to commit voter fraud against ACORN. But so far the complaints raised here have all been about either a) operator-level misconduct, and b) ACORN submitting those erroneous forms.

If someone has internal ACORN office memoranda that shows the whole nefarious plan was to create enough extra work for registrars to allow subsequent voter fraud, then you'd have cause for your hypothetical. Absent that, it's just a conspiracy theory.

The ability for someone to carry out a nefarious conspiracy like the voting fraud scenario you describe is not, by itself, sufficient reason to disallow organized third-party registration drives (which would be the only way to successfully implement such a conspiracy on a scale capable of causing the harm you describe).

Further, demonstrating that the intent is to disrupt and not to obey applicable laws can really only be done with some form of incriminating evidence like the hypothetical memo described. The only two remedies that could alleviate this potential are even greater threats to the process: either ACORN and like groups could be empowered to remove obviously fraudulent forms (like "Mickey Mouse") and held accountable for forms that are wrongly submitted, or third-party registration efforts can be banned.

The first option allows for groups to--as discussed above--potentially dump applications from voters in groups that they don't want to register (African Americans, Republicans, residents of a certain area, etc.), which is an even more pernicious threat to the process. The second option inherently limits participation in the process (say what you want, obviously ACORN is registering a large number of people who have otherwise not been registered, indicating that there is a population of eligible voters who rely on such community outreach programs to navigate the legalistic requirements to exercise their rights).

In this case, effective oversight of ACORN and other registration groups seems to be the optimal mechanism for preventing fraudulent registrations, and the best way to obtain that outcome would be to step up the resources given to registrars to perform that oversight.
10.14.2008 2:48pm
Sarcastro (www):
MartyH Wow! Check out this reasoning.

*The registration process of some organizations needs some serious overhaul.

*Obama once registered voters once.

*Ergo, Obama is steeped in voter fraud!

Add in the seemingly irrelevant fact that later Obama sued his opponents for registration fraud and succeeded and it's clear he's both a fraud-ridden fraudipants AND a dark genius!
10.14.2008 2:50pm
PC:
obviously fraudulent forms (like "Mickey Mouse")

But you haven't really explored this cunning conspiracy. On election day people will show up at polling places dressed as Mickey Mouse and the voting officials will be powerless to stop them.
10.14.2008 2:52pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):

Mickey Muse: not found.
Mickey Mouse FAIRFIELD LN
AURORA, IL 60504
Mickey Mouse KOLMAR AVE
SKOKIE, IL 60076 847-673-50xx
Mickey Mouse LN MAR AVE
ROCKFORD, IL 61108 815-227-15xx

2) In 1996, Obama challenged the signatures of all four of his opponents for the Democratic safe seat that he ended up winning.

I had heard about Obama striking his opponents' signatures, but I didn't realize the timing. In 1996, George Ryan was secretary of state. Was he involved in checking the petitions? In 1998 Ryan, as secretary of state, was in charge of checking the petitions of people running governor - against Ryan. The process was corrupt, and a guy named Tobin was improperly kept off the ballot. Ryan is now in prison for corrupt acts committed while secretary of state, such as selling CDL licenses to the highest bidder.
Was the process by which Obama knocked off his opponents corrupt or legit? I genuinely don't know.
10.14.2008 2:59pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
As a resistered Republican, I endorse vigorous investigation and prosecution of every instance of voter fraud (including registration fraud) involving absentee ballots. People who break the law to cast votes for Republicans should be prosecuted.

I'd also like to publicly condemn *every* organization which, in their zeal to "get out the vote," produces high levels of duplicative or erroneous registrations. I suspect taht the progressives on this blog who contend that ACORN is in fact non-partisan and probably facilitates just as much Republican as Demoratic voter fraud are engaging in wishful thinking. Nevertheless, I'll do everything I can to make sure that none of *my* money gets diverted to it.

If you know of other organizations, particularly any which are overtly Republican, that engage in this behavior, please alert me and other honest Republicans. I'd like to look into it, and if necessary publicly condemn them, too. I'm serious. Voting fraud is a problem because it casts doubt on the legitimacy of elections, even if the result isn't changed. Playing cutesy games with it is very dangerous to our counrty's long-term stability.
10.14.2008 3:15pm
PC:
Personally I'll be registering and voting as Count von Count.
One, ONE vote for Obama! Ah, ah, ah!
Two, TWO votes for Obama! Ah, ah, ah!
10.14.2008 3:17pm
Randy R. (mail):
"And if that is ACORN's goal, why do so many Republicans support the organization and its efforts?\"

in fact, Walter Annenberg gave ACORN $50 million, according to one source.

Be that as it may, we really need to come up with a better system of voter registration.

Maybe when you send in your tax forms in April, you also have to send in a voter registration form and update it? Nearly everyone has to file, so that should cover just about everyone, right?
10.14.2008 3:28pm
Melancton Smith:
If there is voter fraud going on, it does not have to be 'massive' to be successful. I think people learned from 2000 that an election can hinge on one or a few counties in key state(s).

My issue with this voter registration fraud is when it is coupled with no ID check at the voting booth and or register and vote on the same day. If you solve those problems, let 'em register all they want.

One person, one vote. Not too hard to understand. But then, what do I expect from people that can't understand 'Congress shall pass no law...' and 'Shall not be infringed.'
10.14.2008 3:31pm
tinfoil hat:
Blah blah blah. All of you are miserable tinfoilers that hurt our country.


News from DC...

'Static' Blamed for D.C.'s Extra Votes Snafu (Oct 1, 2008):
326 people voted at the Reeves Center precinct on primary election day in September. Their votes were captured on a computer cartridge, but the Board of Elections says when it put the cartridge into the citywide computer to be counted, 1,500 write in votes appeared from nowhere. The board completed its investigation of what might have happened and blames static electricity.

"One of the many possible causes could be an electric charge or static discharge," said Errol Arthur, D.C. Board of Elections.

(Emphasis added.)

The Washington Post has more.

But rather than reading second-hand accounts, it's probably best to just read the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Internal Review Committee's Investigative Report. That report concludes by accepting the vendor's
...determination, reflected in its response to the Board's queries, that multiple possibilities regarding the cause of the tabulation error exist, including: the speed at which the Memory Packs were processed leading to some type of transient malfunction of the MPR unit; the Memory Pack not making full contact inside the MPR socket; or some type of electrical or static discharge taking place while inserting, reading or ejecting the cartridges at a rapid speed;

(p.9 / p.12 in PDF: V Findings paragraph C.) (Emphasis added.)

To restate in simpler language: In a precinct with 326 voters, 1,500 inexplicable votes showed up. The investigators do not know exactly why those votes showed up. However, they accept the vendor's statement that there could be a number of reasons why those 1,500 votes showed up.

Damning.
10.14.2008 3:35pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Most jurisdictions have a jury instruction to the effect that a person may be presumed to have intended the necessary and probably consequences of their actions. The rule is that such a presumption *may* be made, not that it *must* be made. If the person is obviously foolish, that may be an indication that they truly did not see what a reasonably prudent person would have. My own experience with committed progressives makes me think that ACORN does not likely have the clever intent that VA Attorney ascribes to them - they don't usually think in such pragmatic, strategic terms.

This is not to say that they are not causing great damage. Just that it is a more-or-less accidental byproduct of pursuing their progressive dreams.
10.14.2008 3:51pm
josh:
MartyH

I'm not sure how your comment addressed the question I raised about ACORN's self-reporting leading to the investigation JA was addressing in his post. Are you saying that ACORN did the registration of the people whose signatures Obama challenged in his IL State Senate campaign? Do you have a cite for that?
10.14.2008 4:03pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
PDX
Good point, for the first round.
Even the foolish, and not all ACORNs are first-level signature grabbers, are smart enough to say, "Wow! Did you see that? That's great! Let's keep doing it."

"that" meaning dem wins
10.14.2008 4:04pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
pbx, I concur on many points, but am still concerned.

Granting that street-level employees have a financial incentive not to trash registrations from the "wrong" party, it is likely not common. Their incentive is to produce quantity, not quality, for their supervisors. If ACORN simply wanted "more Democrats," they would be sending their folks out to shopping malls and boat marinas as well, then tossing Republican registrations. That many of them legitimately want to increase the voting of an underserved population is generally likely. I don't doubt they are pleased knowing the possibility of more Democrats is statistically probable, but that is secondary for most. The gains in actual votes for Democrats are likely not as dire as Republicans claim. The GOP is likely using this as PR for its "here's another way Dems cheat" campaign. (That is quite legitimate as long as there are any real abuses, BTW. If they oversell the point it is annoying, but small potatoes in itself).

Nonetheless, fraudulent registrations are in themselves a bad thing. Were an immigration group to try and fraudulently register children into a school district, it would be a signigicant problem for the district even if few actual children showed up in September. Worse, it increases the likelihood of a large-scale fraud actually being perpetrated at some point. (What do you mean you didn't really expect 1200 new students this year? They were registered, weren't they?) That such an event remains unlikely because of the practical problems of actually buying 14,000 cartons of cigarettes and bussing poor people to vote is beside the point. Increasing the chances of massive fraud from 1% to 2% is still too much.
10.14.2008 4:28pm
pete (mail) (www):

My issue with this voter registration fraud is when it is coupled with no ID check at the voting booth and or register and vote on the same day. If you solve those problems, let 'em register all they want.


A thirty day buffer between registration and voting, requiring a valid residential mailing address, and requiring proof of who you are (either a government picture ID or a card from the registrars office sent to the afore mentioned valid address) solves most registration fraud problems assuming you have honest and competent poll workers and registrars, which in places like Milwaukee and Chicago you can not assume.

Unfortunately many states do not have even this and some like Minnesotta allow same day registration without any ID, the word of registered voter is good enough. Wisconson is also a bad case that had thousands of false same day registrations in Milwaukee in 2004 and false votes probably swung the state to Kerry, which thankfully did not matter.

I would still require a picture ID and have it be attainable for free from your local DMV.
10.14.2008 4:32pm
Ben P:

But you assume that Acorn's only goal is to register elligble (Democratic) voters who were previously not registered. What if another goal is to disrupt the process so that registrars throw up their hands and let anyone that walks in vote, because it is too difficult to figure out which registrations are accurate? Or if another goal is to delegitimize the election process such that strategically filed court challenges to election outcomes (say, against Republican winners in close races) raise questions in the public's mind about "stolen elections" in specific districts?



I love that no one brings up the opposite problem.

Imagine, for a moment, the solution to this particular problem.

Acorn has paid canvassers that go out and collect voter registrations. Just for the sake of the example, I'll say that 10 canvassers come up with 1000 registrations.

Acorn staff examine those registrations and determine that there's a significant possibility that 100 of them are incorrect, duplicate, false in some way, or for obviously ineligible people.

What do they do with those 100?

What they do now is submit them to the Secretary of state's office in a Seperate batch explicitly flagged as possible bad registrations.

Do you want them to just trash them right off the bat? Do you not see the problem inherent in that approach? I can see the headlines now.

"Voter registration drive deliberately destroyed voter registrations for 10 individuals, Republicans accuse canvassers of concealing republican registrations."

If they actually recieve bad registrations the only realistic approach is to do what they're already doing.
10.14.2008 4:35pm
MartyH (mail):
Josh-

The only cert I have is the Chicago Tribune article I cited in one of my other posts.

http://tinyurl.com/4juv5s

I don't know how many of the 150K Project Vote registrants were subsequently purged, but it is a good question to ask.


I am responding to the people who say that there is no foul from voter registration fraud. This is not true, because these paid signature gatherers also collect signatures for candidates and ballot initiatives (here in CA, at least.) Their sloppy work on voter registration may be caught by Registrars, but their sloppy work for candidates may not be caught.

In Obama's case, the sloppy signature gathering work resulted in all of his opponents being forced from the ballot. Obama had to get over half of the total signatures from four independent campaigns DQ'd in order to force all of them from the ballot. The fact that he was able to do that shows that the signature gathering process in Chicago was screwed up in 1996. Recent events show that the paid signature gathering process, specifically by ACORN, is still screwed up.

That's my claim-that the paid signature gathering process is corrupt, and it affects more than voter registration fraud. Obama's State Senate run proves it.

My supposition, admittedly backed up by no facts whatsoever, is that Obama noticed that the signature gathering process was corrupt when he led Project Vote. That's what led him to challenge his opponents' signatures, drive them from the ballot, and win the primary uncontested. It doesn't matter who counts the votes if there is only one person on the ballot.

BTW, if the electors cast their votes for Obama, he will be my President, just as every one since LBJ has been my President. The office is bigger than the man.
10.14.2008 4:49pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pc:

people will show up at polling places dressed as Mickey Mouse


This sort of problem is more real than you think. Sarah Palin had to step in to deal with some guy who was running around dressed like a bear. Seriously.
10.14.2008 4:59pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pdx:

Voting fraud is a problem because it casts doubt on the legitimacy of elections


How about gratuitous, hysterical, exaggerated claims of voting fraud? Doesn't that also "cast[s] doubt on the legitimacy of elections?"
10.14.2008 5:01pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Ben P:

You're right as far as you go - when ACORN receives obviously fraudulent registrations, they have to turn them in. But, they don't have to stop at that. They *could* fire every canvasser who turns in such registrations. (I know, they say they do that, but somehow their canvassers seem not to get the message, time and again, which makes me wonder). They *could* also make criminal complaints against the cavassers who *victimize* them, since handling it as a personnel matter is plainly not working for them.
10.14.2008 5:07pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
jukeboxgrad wrote:

How about gratuitous, hysterical, exaggerated claims of voting fraud? Doesn't that also "cast[s] doubt on the legitimacy of elections?"

Depends on what you mean by "doubt." Significant voting fraud makes it impossible for anyone, no matter how good their intentions, or how impartial their judgment, to determine who really won a close election. It causes, if you like, objective doubt.

Overheated partisan screaming about fraud, on the other hand, makes it impossible for a person with limited time, limited resources, and a limited motivation to overcome their own cognative biases (that is, most people) to determine who won a close election. This is subjective doubt.

A person in subjective doubt could remove that doubt, if they cared to devote the needed effort. Objective doubt is less easily dealt with. Other threads, on derangement syndromes, pretty convincingly demonstrate that calling the other side "hysterical" doesn't really advance the argument. So, I advocate concentrating on improving the actual voting process, not its image.
10.14.2008 5:43pm
tinfoil hat:
....gratuitous, hysterical, exaggerated claims...


You mean claims like this?

Following up the DC situation, here's the Preliminary Report and Recommendations of Cheh, Mendelson, Thomas Special Committee (Oct 8, 2008):
1. SEQUOIA'S EXPLANATION FOR THE ANOMALY ON SEPTEMBER 9, 2008, IS INADEQUATE

Sequoia attributed the mistaken election results contained in unofficial report #2 to human error in interacting with equipment (i.e. improper seating of the cartridge, premature removal of the cartridge, and/or an electrostatic discharge). Witnesses, including experts, cast considerable doubt on these explanations.

Principally, based on Sequoia's inability to replicate these results under the same conditions, the technical implausibility of the explanation, and expertise of experienced elections specialists16 suggest that Sequoia was too quick to exonerate itself and the equipment used in the tabulation process.

Until an independent technical investigation is conducted, the precise cause is still not known. To date, the evidence appears to indicate that there was a problem both in equipment (the server) and in the software.

(Footnotes omitted.)

I would've put the Special Committee report in my earlier post, but I'm just heard about —and am catching up on— the DC situation. Instead, I've been paying attention to the Florida mess.

The claim here is simple: These voting machines, as a class, do not meet minimal engineering requirements for critical infrastructure, deployed at taxpayer expense, for use by the public. This is critical infrastructure. And engineering malpractice.

You calling that “gratuitous, hysterical, exaggerated”?
10.14.2008 5:54pm
PC:
PDXLawyer, according to an ACORN spokesman that was on the news, they discipline, fire or contact authorities when a worker turns in fraudulent registrations. They have something like 18,000 employees nationwide that are making $8/hr. I'd be interested to see some actual statistics on how many fraudulent forms are turned in by ACORN, if those forms were flagged properly, and what ACORN's actions were against the employees.

Until we see something like that, we are all speculating. And attributing malice to ACORNs actions at this point is delving into conspiracy theories.
10.14.2008 6:01pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Just to be clear - I'm not worried that ACORN itself is going to be an election changer this year. Obama is on track for a legit landslide. Though I'm not going to vote for him, I don't see the prospect of his winning as being any kind of calamity.

What does worry me is the "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" attitude toward election fraud that I see growing well beyond its traditional Machine roots. I can see why election fraud it is hardly a priority for career prosecutors, since prosecuting it risks goring the ox of people who can and will fight back in the political arena. But that isn't a reason for ignoring it, unless you equate careerism with professionalism, and legal professionalism with justice.
10.14.2008 6:15pm
PC:
PDLawyer, I'm not sure who is giving a wink and a nudge to election fraud. There are potentially serious problems for vote fraud, but I think fraudulent voter registration is further down the list of things we should be looking at. If Republicans showed concern about the numerous flaws of electronic voting machines I'd take these protestations more seriously.

But electronic voting machines don't fit into the narrative that is being pushed here. The narrative moved another step forward today when a McCain spokesman went on a talking heads show and said Obama should personally rein in ACORN.
10.14.2008 6:21pm
pbf (mail) (www):
I would not concede that a demand for evidence of voting fraud over and above the occasional inevitable case (as I wrote earlier today on another post by Professor Adler, I expect there to be voting fraud just as I expect there to be commercial fraud), I'm not willing to accept that my attitude is a "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" attitude toward election fraud.

The more persuasive explanation for this recent explosion of allegations against ACORN is that it's a repeat of the 2006 allegations. David Iglesias (a Republican appointment to his U.S. Attorney job) concluded the evidence supporting those allegations was insufficient to support any indictment. There is enough evidence Iglesias was fired for his decision that Mukasey appointed a special prosecutor.

In other words, there seems to have been more evidence some Republicans ginned up these allegations of voter fraud for political purposes than that there has been any election-affecting voter fraud.

That I think so is not toleration of voting fraud. It's a professionally gained skepticism regarding unproven allegations that are remarkably convenient for the people making the allegations.
10.14.2008 6:35pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
PC:

If you'd be interested in seeing some actual statistics of ACORN's nation-wide performance, perhaps you should look to ACORN for those statistics. I can't offhand see how anyone else could produce them. There is a principle of evidence that if one party to a dispute has superior access to evidence on a material issue, and no evidence (or unpersuasive evidence) on that issue is presented, the factfinder may find, on that basis alone, against the party with superior access.

I assume you quoted ACORN accurately that they claim to "discipline, fire or contact authorities" whenever a fraudulent registration is identified. If you have a suspicious lawyer's mind, you might observe that "discipline" in this context could mean as little as "verbal counselling."
10.14.2008 6:38pm
PC:
PDXLawyer, for internal controls ACORN would certainly need to provide the statistics. I'm also curious on how many voter registrations are deemed fraudulent. That would require coordination with the elections boards.

As a person knee deep in bleeding edge technology it surprises me that much of this isn't automated. Trust in our election system should be something all of us can agree is needed. I tend to harp on electronic voting because my day job involves technology. It saddens me that voting machines are less reliable than slot machines.

As to what the ACORN rep said, I understand that discipline is probably a slap on the wrist. Maybe voter registration organizations should be required by law to be more transparent in their processes (if they aren't already). That way concerned parties could check the statistics on total number of registrations, suspect registrations and eventually fraudulent registrations. If an organization is found to not meet some threshold they will face legal sanctions.
10.14.2008 7:18pm
js5 (mail):
I would love to work the voting stations to see a Mickey Mouse come in. But honestly, isn't this the prophylactic that prevents a man in a mouse suit from voting?
10.14.2008 8:24pm
MartyH (mail):
So Obama did learn about the "problems" with voter registration in 1992...

http://tinyurl.com/4ux5om

"My understanding in terms of the voter fraud, because having run a voter registration drive, I know how problems arise, this is typically a situation where ACORN probably paid people to get registrations and these folks, not wanting to actually register people because that's actually hard work, just went into a phone book or made up names and submitted false registrations to get paid..."

Did he use that knowledge four years later when he got all of his rivals purged from the ballot?
10.14.2008 8:48pm
PC:
MartyH, I don't know if Obama did that? Do you? Could you share a bit more of your theory?
10.14.2008 9:41pm
John Thompson (mail):
I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'm happy to sell to anyone who believes that ACORN is not throwing out a large percentage of registration cards that come back marked "R" (not that they are likely to come across too many "Rs" in the crack dens and skid rows where they prefer to ply their trade)
10.14.2008 10:28pm
PC:
John Thompson, there are numerous prosecutors that would like the proof you have to offer. It is interesting to hear a new theory that an organization that has problems with workers getting enough valid voter registrations now has people throwing out valid registrations.

Can you guys stick to at least on theory at a time?
10.14.2008 11:22pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
PC.
As you know, there is no contradiction in John Thompson's speculation.
You hassle people for registration, you will eventually get republicans. Can't avoid it unless there is a procedure in place to avoid it, which you will not admit.
Therefore, some republican registrations come in.
Tossing them is not particularly labor intensive. Whether JT has proof or not is a different question from your bogus attempt to get others to see a contradiction where one does not exist.
10.14.2008 11:33pm
Pauldom:
@MartyH:

So Obama did learn about the "problems" with voter registration in 1992....

Did he use that knowledge four years later when he got all of his rivals purged from the ballot?


Sheesh, Obama just had to go and spill the beans. Now *anyone* running for office has that super-double-secret knowledge about how low-paid signature gatherers sometimes pad their lists to make their jobs easier.

Seriously, if we are seriously concerned about the effects of GOTV efforts, why not fund the registrars so that they have the staff to manage the workload? Or better yet, rather than demonizing a GOTV effort, why not try to improve the registration process itself?
10.14.2008 11:43pm
NickM (mail) (www):
It's far more likely that fraudulent registrations will be voted absentee than at the polls. That doesn't require a large group of people in on the plot - the person faking the forms could cast all the votes by himself - with nobody else ever seeing him.

Nick
10.15.2008 12:13am
MartyH (mail):
PC-

Sure, I'll humor you.

I'll assume Project Vote was an exercise in coordination of voter registration efforts. I'll assume that they did not hire signature gatherers and pay them directly.

If I were running the effort, I would assign different groups territories. Of course I would measure how many new registrations each group brought in, but I would also measure how many of those registrants were rejected by the Registrar. Key metrics for each group I was working with would include:
What % of total submitted registrations were ultimately accepted.
# of accepted registrations per man hour.
Determining if the location being worked made a difference for different groups. For example, ACORN may be okay for working a shopping center, where registrants come to you, but the local AME church is better at the door to door stuff.

The reason I'd be tracking this data would be to try to identify where unregistered voters might be, and how much effort it will take to register them. I'd get the registration forms to elections officials as fast as I could so that I can evaluate how my teams are doing. For example, if ACORN was assigned a neighborhood as its first project, and the registrar accepted 2% of signatures submitted, then I'd recanvas that neighborhood with a group that had a better registration success rate.

If the effort ran for any time, I'd have really good data on how effective each group was at getting qualified signatures. I'd guess that volunteers had a higher success rate than paid signature gatherers. Maybe my right hand man presented some data that showed that at least half of the paid gatherers' signatures were bad and said, "Y'know, if I ever ran for office in this town, I'd challenge any opponent stupid enough to pay people to gather signatures. If you want something done right, do it yourself."

And so a seed is planted. When Obama ran for State Senate four years later, I'm sure he knew who his opponents' signature gatherers were. He's not stupid; he'd remember who had high failure rates. If his opponents hired the sloppy signature gatherers, they presented him with a great opportunity to get them off the ballot.

That's my specualtion-that Obama learned that paying for signatures was a low yield venture; when his opponents went down that path he yanked the rug out from under them.
10.15.2008 12:18am
Pauldom:

You hassle people for registration, you will eventually get republicans. Can't avoid it unless there is a procedure in place to avoid it, which you will not admit.
Therefore, some republican registrations come in.
Tossing them is not particularly labor intensive.

Why would people who are desperate to get MORE registrations start tossing registrations? If we assume that ACORN's quota requirement encourages fraudulent registrations, then that same quota requirement would mitigate against tossing Republican registrations.

Maybe the argument is that the low-paid people gather Rep registrations, but the higher-ups toss them. If the higher-ups are going to start tossing registrations, why wouldn't they also toss the Mickey Mouse registrations and save themselves a lot of grief? Why would they call attention to the Mickey Mouse registrations when they are submitted?

Regardless, the parties themselves also send people out to gather registrations. If we're worried about contrary registrations being tossed by partisan GOTV operations, it doesn't make sense to think that the paid signature gatherers are more likely to do so than the volunteers, or that the D's are more likely to do so than the R's.

Which means that the fix would logically involve a better registration process, not demonizing ACORN.
10.15.2008 12:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pdx:

I advocate concentrating on improving the actual voting process, not its image.


Fair enough. I appreciate your prompt and rational answer.

My opinion is that both are important, but I have to agree that the former should take precedence.

Maybe this is a better of way of saying what I was trying to say: I think the current fuss about ACORN is motivated (at least in part) by a desire to preemptively undermine the validity of the mandate Obama is about to get.
10.15.2008 2:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
tin:

These voting machines, as a class, do not meet minimal engineering requirements for critical infrastructure, deployed at taxpayer expense, for use by the public. This is critical infrastructure. And engineering malpractice.

You calling that "gratuitous, hysterical, exaggerated"?


Absolutely not. I was talking about the fuss over ACORN.

I emphatically agree with everything you said about the issues of electronic voting. I think there is a strong argument that we should throw away the computerized voting machines.
10.15.2008 2:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
john:

I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'm happy to sell to anyone who believes that ACORN is not throwing out a large percentage of registration cards that come back marked "R" (not that they are likely to come across too many "Rs" in the crack dens and skid rows where they prefer to ply their trade)


If this is really happening a lot then it shouldn't be that hard to locate at least one R voter who is turned away on election day because ACORN ripped up his registration. Surely at least one person would speak up about this, right? So have you heard about any such person?
10.15.2008 2:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I see that in the other thread PC had already said what I just said, except he said it more clearly:

This entire conversation is designed to delegitimize the election in the face of Republican defeat. Is there also massive polling fraud going?
10.15.2008 2:14am
TruthInAdvertising:
"There are two potential explanations for how Obama got four opponents forced off the ballot in 1996. "

MartyH, thanks for showing that you don't know how the petition process works and that you have never worked on a campaign where petitions are reviewed, and where necessary, challenged. Reviewing petitions is SOP in these types of races. This isn't something special that happens just in Chicago. I've worked campaigns in suburban areas where ACORN is something that falls from a tree. When necessary, we've reviewed petitions and had candidates deemed ineligible to run.

How does this happen? You think it's fraud. If that's the case, it's happening in the suburbs where ACORN is nowhere to be found. The more logical answer is that the petition process is inherently difficult to police. Why? Because as a petition collector, you have to rely on the knowledge and good faith of the person signing the petition. They tell you that they are eligible to sign and that they are registered to vote. But as a petition collector, you have no independent way to verify that until your petitions are actually reviewed by the local election officials.

Unfortunately, many petition signers don't have the first clue about their eligibility. They may think they live in City A but actually live in Township B. They may think they live in School District 1 but actually live in School District 2. Or they don't know so they guess. Whatever the case, they're ineligible to sign and their name gets knocked. You also have people who don't want to admit that they aren't registered to vote so they sign anyways. They assume that it won't matter in the end, not realizing that they could be the deciding signature that saves or kills a candidate's eligibility.

I know the MartyH's of the world love a conspiracy. But the reality is that a lot of voters are not very informed about even the basics and these are the same people signing petitions. Unfortunate? Yes. Proof of a conspiracy? No.
10.15.2008 2:39am
PC:
Proof of a conspiracy? No.

The fact that you think there is no proof of a conspiracy is exactly what they want you to think.

ACORN is the new Diebold.
10.15.2008 2:58am
MartyH (mail):
TIA-

Several points.

First, I am not asserting a consipiracy. I am asserting that he made an observation and used that observation to his advantage at an opportune time. Baseball fans of a certain age will remember the George Brett pine tar incident. Early in the season, Billy Martin had observed that George Brett put more than the legal amount of pine tar on his bat. Against the Yankees in June, Brett hit a go ahead home run in the top of the ninth. Martin chose that time-when a game huing in the balance-to challenge Brett's bat challenged the homer because of the bat. The umpire supported Martin, called Brett out, and thus ended the game (KC appealed; the league ruled that the homer counted, and the game was later played from that point forward.) Martin and the umpire did not conspire.

My primary response is to the people who say that there is "no harm, no foul" in ACORN submitting thousands of fraudulent registrations. My main assertion is that the same people who submit the fraudulent registrations are also gathering signatures for candidates, and they use the same fraudulent methods in these cases. This defrauds both the potential candidates ewho pay them to do a job and cheats the voters by keeping otherwise qualified people off the ballot.

Finally, your assertion that there is no ability to check between the time that a signture is gathered and the election officials rule on it is incorrect. The candidates' teams compare the names they submit to voter rolls. Obama's advantage was that he used newer, purged voter rolls for his challenges, while his opponents used the pre-purged rolls to vet their signatures.
10.15.2008 2:01pm