ACORN has been registering people to vote for almost 40 years. Millions of them. Because they register low income families, many of them minorities, they help Democrats get elected.
The extreme Right hates ACORN. They help the poor, the help minorities, they help Democrats. The most vile - Malkin, Limbaugh, etc. - regularly attack ACORN. If one voter registration form is filled out incorrectly, they use it to accuse the entire organization of willful fraud on a massive scale. If not raping babies.
This has been going on for years, and the extreme Right is very pleased right now because a month before the election "fraud at ACORN" is a huge story.
Here is a statement from ACORN. First:
Fact: ACORN has implemented the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field, but in almost every state we are required to turn in ALL completed applications, even the ones we know to be problematic.
Think about that. One bad employee could fill out a thousand voter registration forms fraudulently. ACORN does their own checks, finds out they're false - and they have to turn them in anyway. They're legal documents. No problem: they flag them. They let election officials know that there are problems with those forms. But...
Fact: ACORN flags incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards when we turn them in, but these warnings are often ignored by election officials. Often these same officials then come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in phony cards.
Hard to fight that, y'know? You act in good faith, the other side doesn't - who wins? The other side often does, at least in the short term, and the Limbaughs and the Malkins of the world know this.
Fact: Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card, so there is NO incentive for them to falsify cards. ACORN has a zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in the relatively rare cases where our internal quality controls have identified this happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to election officials and law-enforcement.
Fact: No charges have ever been brought against ACORN itself. Convictions against individual former ACORN workers have been accomplished with our full cooperation, using the evidence obtained through our quality control and verification processes.
Fact: Voter fraud by individuals is extremely rare, and incredibly difficult. There has never been a single proven case of anyone, anywhere, casting an illegal vote as a result of a phony voter registration. Even if someone wanted to influence the election this way, it would not work.
Fact: Most election officials have recognized ACORN's good work and praised our quality control systems. Even in the cities where election officials have complained about ACORN, the applications in question represent less than 1% of the thousands and thousands of registrations ACORN has collected.
Fact: Our accusers not only fail to provide any evidence, they fail to suggest a motive: there is virtually no chance anyone would be able to vote fraudulently, so there is no reason to deliberately submit phony registrations. ACORN is committed to ensuring that the greatest possible numbers of people are registered and allowed to vote, so there is also NO incentive to "disrupt the system" with phony cards.
Fact: Similar accusations were made, and attacks launched, against ACORN and other voter registration organizations in 2004 and 2006. These attacks were not only groundless, they have since been exposed as part of the U.S. Attorneygate scandal and revealed to be part of a systematic partisan agenda of voter suppression.
These are the facts, and the truth is that a relatively small group of political operatives are trying to orchestrate hysteria about "voter fraud" and manufacture public outrage that they can use to further suppress the votes of millions of low-income and minority Americans.
Don't get duped by the quick take on this story. There is much more there.
Update: Much more at TPM.