Recently, ACORN has become a focus of controversy. The main concern is that people employed by ACORN turned in fake voter registration forms (including one for Mickey Mouse and another for Jimmy John-the sandwich shop). McCain’s campaign is accusing Obama of being involved with ACORN and Obama’s defenders are countering this attack.
The claim that ACORN has turned in fake voter registration forms is true and is not in dispute. It is, however, important to keep the following fact in mind: by law, ACORN cannot decide what forms it will turn in to the officials. After all, it is not up to ACORN or other such voter registration organizations to decide which forms are valid and which are fakes. That is the responsibility of the state. As such, if fraudulent forms are turned into ACORN, they must be turned in to the state. Of course, there is concern about why ACORN has gathered so many fraudulent forms.
One possibility is that people in ACORN intended to engage in voter fraud by creating a number of fake voter identities and then using them to influence the election. This practice is not unheard of. After all, it used to be joked that the dead were a major voting block in Chicago. As such, it is reasonable to be concerned about attempts at voter fraud.
Of course, there is a big difference between turning in fake voter registration forms and actual voting fraud. For a fake form to enable someone to vote, the form would have to get past the verification process. Further, the person going to cast the vote under a fake identity would need the documentation to support this false identity. As such, if ACORN was going to conduct voter fraud, they would need to take steps to get the fake registrations through the verification process and then get the fake voters through the verification process at the polls. However, the fake forms turned in by ACORN were rather easily spotted and there seems to be no evidence that ACORN has taken steps to prepare the means for fake voters to cast their fraudulent votes. As such, either ACORN was not involved in a conspiracy or it was a rather pathetic one. Then again, perhaps there are fake forms that were cleverly filled out and managed to get through the verification process. This does remain a possibility.
As second possibility is that certain people employed by ACORN created fraudulent voter forms on their own and turned them in to ACORN. Since people are paid to register people to vote and going around to register real voters can be a lot of work, there is a clear incentive for some unethical people to simply fill out forms on their own. As a matter of fact, it has been found that this actually took place in some cases. As such, the fraudulent forms can be explained in this manner without there being a conspiracy on the part of ACORN. While this gets ACORN off one hook, it does raise concerns about who ACORN hires and what steps are taken to ensure that these people follow the law. Given the number of fraudulent forms turned in, it is clear that ACORN and other organizations need to take steps to deal with this problem.