ACORN is a hell of a group. They lobby for the people who can't afford lobbyists, the work they've done helping people get into housing is more than adirable, and they're the pre-eminent group when it comes to registering poor and working class people to vote. Those are the top three reasons Republicans can't stand them.

Every election cycle, the same stories come out--ACORN is turning in fraudulent voter registration forms in hopes of committing voter fraud in order to get Democrats elected--and every election cycle nothing comes of those stories because there's nothing to them. So here's a little primer of what's going on this year.

  • ACORN hires people to register voters. They hire a lot of people. Some of these people are lazy and fill in incorrect information. When they're caught, they're fired.

  • Some people, for whatever reason, like to screw with people who are doing this sort of work, so they put in false information. Not much you can do to stop them.

  • This is the important bit--ACORN doesn't decide on its own what registration forms are legitimate and which ones aren't. Not all groups do this. In 2004, there was a Republican-run outfit in the west which was accused of dumping registration forms that had been filled out by people who wanted to join the Democratic party. ACORN is more worried about keeping its reputation clean so they don't dump any of them.

  • At least in Nevada, ACORN is not being investigated:
    According to a statement from the group which has not been disputed by state officials, in July, ACORN set up a meeting with county elections officials and the Secretary of State's office to urge them to take action on information ACORN had provided. Since then, "ACORN has provided officials with copies and--in some cases--second copies of many of the personnel records and the 'problem card packages' and cover sheets with which we originally identified the problem cards."
    Indeed, ACORN is doing its best to make sure that voting oficials know which forms they suspect have false information on them.

  • Finally, even if ACORN were guilty of everything Fox News is accusing them of--and they aren't--that's still miles away from voter fraud. In order for voting fraud to happen, someone has to actually show up and try to cast a vote under the wrong name. Considering all the ways things could go wrong when trying to get someone to vote under a false name and the punishment involved if they get caught, it's a really stupid way to try to steal an election.

And that's really all there is to it. Much ado about nothing.

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