ACORN Submitted ‘Thousands and Thousands of Phony’ Voter Registrations, County Registrar Says

By Josiah Ryan | October 22, 2008 | 2:27pm EDT

Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP, responds to recent criticisms against the voter registration efforts conducted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Oct. 15, 2008, during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(CNSNews.com) – The Association for Community Reform Now (ACORN) submitted nearly 90,000 voter registration applications to the registrar’s office in Clark County, Nev., this year, among which were “thousands and thousands and thousands of phony and duplicate applications” that ACORN did not mark as suspicious, Larry Lomax, Clark Country registrar of voters, told CNSNews.com.
 
Matthew Henderson, ACORN’s regional director for Southwest Nevada, however, said that a few duplicate and falsified forms may have slipped through ACORN’s vetting. But the group turned in between 3,000 and 4,000 tagged registration forms, Henderson said, and there is little evidence to support Lomax’s allegations that they missed “thousands.”
 
On Oct. 7, an ACORN office in Las Vegas, Nev., was raided by local police after Colin Haynes, a criminal investigator for the Nevada Secretary of State Securities Division, submitted an affidavit to a judge requesting a search warrant.
 
He alleged in the affidavit “that employees of ACORN, while employed to solicit members of the public to complete Voter Registration Applications, have themselves completed forms using fictitious and false information.” 

As the affidavit reads: “The investigation started on July 2, 2008 when Larry Lomax, Clark County Registrar of Voters, reported to the division that his office had received a significant number of suspicious Voter Registration Application Forms from ACORN.”
 
Henderson said that in 2008, ACORN caught nearly 50 of its 700 canvassers engaging in voter-fraud activities and had immediately fired them and tagged the registration applications they had collected before turning them into the registrar’s office.
 
To track voter registration cards, Nevada State Law requires that organizations participating in voting registration drives submit every completed application to county officials to be vetted, even if the information inside is false.
 
“Each field registrar shall forward to the county clerk all completed applications in his possession,” the law reads, as posted on the state government Web site.
 
In complying with the law, however, ACORN officials said they opt to tag voting cards that appear to be suspicious with a special “problematic card-cover sheet” to help registrar officials identify duplicate and phony applications.
 
“Our responsibility and our interpretation of the law in most states is that it is not our responsibility to deal with that [vetting],” Alleine Delare, a member of the ACORN national board, told CNSNews.com at an Oct. 15 press conference. “We notify them [the election boards], but it’s not our duty to determine what’s valid and what’s not. We must, by law, turn them all in.”
 
“To repeat what we have said over and over and over again, the cards that are being investigated, the overwhelming majority of the time, have been flagged, tagged, and turned over to local authorities pursuant of local law,” Brian Kettering, a spokesman for ACORN, told CNSNews.com at the same Oct. 15 press conference.
 
Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was at the conference to show solidarity with ACORN. When asked if the NAACP, which has also done voter registration drives for years, has ever experienced the sort of problems alleged in the voter forms collected by ACORN, Bond said, no.
 
“So far, as I can recall, it’s not been a problem in the voter drives we have done for decades and decades and decades,” Bond told CNSNews.com. “I can’t say it [registration errors] never happens, but we have never been attacked for it.”

Republican presidential candidate John McCain shakes hands with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama (AP Photo)

Lomax said he does not know whether ACORN turned in between 3,000 and 4,000 problematic cover sheets, as Henderson claimed. But from January through July, only a small percentage of the fraudulent applications turned in by ACORN were tagged, Lomax said.
 
“It is very accurate to say the majority of falsified ballots had not been tagged,” Lomax told CNSNews.com. “They claim they registered 90,000 new voters, but that is certainly not true. They may have turned in 90,000 cards, but in that were thousands and thousands and thousands of phony and duplicate applications. It was a pathetic effort.
 
“To me it was just a token effort,” said Lomax, “so they could respond just as they have been, and say that they have a big quality control effort in place. There was all sorts of garbage in the other [untagged] stack.”
 
But Henderson told CNSNews.com that Lomax’s data are flawed.
 
“Though I couldn’t give you an accurate guess of how many got by, I think that it is very unlikely [that thousands got by], and I think Lomax has nothing to base that upon since for seven months he was not tracking them,” said Henderson.
 
Lomax, however, said that while his office did not track the precise number of fraudulent cards or the number of problem card-cover sheets, they are confident that the difference between the number of problem card-cover sheets and fraudulent voter-registration applications is in the thousands.
 
“We didn’t track them because we didn’t expect the attention,” Lomax told CNSNews.com. “It’s only now that people like you are asking these questions.”
 
Meanwhile, investigations involving ACORN have also been launched in 12 of the other 21 states where the organization says it has gathered a total 1.32 million voter registration applications this year.
 
Allegations against ACORN include a voter registration application for a “Mickey Mouse” living in Orlando; a man in Ohio who has testified that he was offered cigarettes and cash to apply for 73 voter cards; and 10 applications to vote for a deceased woman in Missouri.
 
Members of ACORN from around the country, however, defended their group at the Oct. 15 press conference, which was held, they said, to "condemn recent Republican attacks on ACORN's hugely successful voter registration efforts."
 
“We are going to continue our work and we are not going to be swayed by those who are concerned – not by falling morality – but by falling popularity and falling polls,” said Rev. Gloria Swierenga, president of Maryland ACORN.

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