American Civil Liberties Union
Oct 17, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312; firstname.lastname@example.org
ACLU Says DOJ Should Protect Voting Rights, Not Suppress Them
WASHINGTON – In response to news reports that the FBI has initiated an investigation into whether the community group ACORN has committed voter fraud in its voter registration drive, the American Civil Liberties Union urges the government to stop engaging in partisan probes that could cast a chilling effect on voter participation. The Department of Justice should focus instead on the true threat to the elections this November – the widespread possibility that millions of voters could be disfranchised through voter suppression schemes such as unlawful purging and racially motivated voter intimidation.
“The ACLU and other civil rights groups have repeatedly warned Justice Department officials that high-profile, partisan voter fraud investigations before Election Day have a chilling effect on voter turnout,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Despite this feedback, the Department of Justice and the FBI continue with these highly publicized and partisan efforts prior to this historic election rather than stopping unlawful behavior in states all over the country where eligible voters are being improperly purged from the rolls.”
During a September 8, 2008, meeting with the ACLU and other civil rights groups, Attorney General Michael Mukasey called the smooth running of this election his highest priority. The ACLU urged him to live up to this commitment. Instead, it appears that the government is pouring resources into actions that encourage voter suppression.
ACORN’s voter registration drive has helped over 1.3 million low-income people, minorities and young voters register to vote. While there have been imperfections in the program, reports indicate that ACORN itself “flagged” suspicious forms for election officials’ review, but biased election officials improperly publicized them as instances of voter fraud.
Furthermore, fraud perpetuated against ACORN by workers submitting erroneous registration forms at the end of the day does not translate into voter fraud at the polls. Recent research shows that individual instances of in-person voter fraud are extremely rare and pose no significant threat to the integrity of elections.
“Election officials should concentrate their limited resources on expanding access to the ballot and banning true threats to federal elections,” added Vagins. “Mickey Mouse is not coming to an election booth near you. However, the over one million new and young voters registered by ACORN may think twice before casting a ballot. And if voters do show up only to find they have been improperly purged from the rolls, the tragedy will be that DOJ did not enforce the laws that could have prevented that.”
The ACLU has been on the front lines to protect voting rights through its litigation challenging voter suppression throughout the country and through its legislative and advocacy efforts. For more information, see www.votingrights.org.
Thousands Face Mix-Ups In Voter Registrations
By Mary Pat Flaherty
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 18, 2008; Page A01
Thousands of voters across the country must reestablish their eligibility in the next three weeks in order for their votes to count on Nov. 4, a result of new state registration systems that are incorrectly rejecting them.
The challenges have led to a dozen lawsuits, testy arguments among state officials and escalating partisan battles. Because many voters may not know that their names have been flagged, eligibility questions could cause added confusion on Election Day, beyond the delays that may come with a huge turnout.
Some early W.Va. voters angry over switched votes
By Paul J. Nyden
The Charleston Gazette
October 18, 2008
At least three early voters in Jackson County had a hard time voting for candidates they want to win.
Virginia Matheney and Calvin Thomas said touch-screen machines in the county clerk’s office in Ripley kept switching their votes from Democratic to Republican candidates.
“When I touched the screen for Barack Obama, the check mark moved from his box to the box indicating a vote for John McCain,” said Matheney, who lives in Kenna.
US Republicans target ACORN: the great “voter fraud” fraud
By Tom Eley
18 October 2008
A community activist group called ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has become a lighting rod for Republican attacks as the US presidential election approaches.
In Wednesday night’s presidential debate, John McCain warned that ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” He demanded to “know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship” to this purportedly criminal organization.
What is this group that is allegedly responsible for “destroying the fabric of democracy”?
ACORN describes itself as an organization of “low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families” which focuses on such goals as raising the minimum wage and expanding access to affordable housing. It unreservedly supports the Democratic Party and has endorsed Barack Obama for the presidency. In the lead-up to the 2008 election, ACORN has launched a major voter registration campaign to bring poor and minority people—who tend to vote Democratic—to the polls in the upcoming election. It claims to have registered over 1.3 million voters, largely in critical “battleground” states.
There is no evidence that ACORN has committed fraud, a charge that implies intent. As is typical of registration and petition drives, ACORN has hired low-paid workers to carry out registrations. Some of these workers, in an effort to take home more pay, have invented the names of registrants. However, ACORN claims that it examines all registration material and flags forgeries in an attempt to assist state officials in prosecuting cases of fraud. In fact, ACORN claims that Republican officials have used the same registration cards ACORN has flagged for attention as a means of discrediting the group’s operations.
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