CNN keeps its focus on ACORN voter-registration fraud this morning with another Drew Griffin report. Kiran Chetry hosts this segment, and don’t miss the part where Griffin confronts an ACORN activist:
KIRAN CHETRY: A group that claims it signed up more than a million new voters is now facing allegations that many forms may be fake. Drew Griffin from the Special Investigations Unit is in Philadelphia. He’s looking at the facts for us this morning. Hi, Drew.
DREW GRIFFIN: Good morning, Kiran. You know, ever since the voter registration deadline ended for this November 4th election, I feel like I’ve been on a national tour looking at voter registration fraud across the country. In Philly, it’s no different. And here in Philadelphia, they say it’s the same group as everywhere else. The good news, there have been hundreds of thousands of new voter registrations processed in Philadelphia, including a vast majority of good, clean registrations from ACORN. The bad news, Philadelphia has already sent 1,500 obvious fraudulent registrations to the U.S. Attorney to be investigated. Every one of them from the same group, ACORN.
GRIFFIN: Is ACORN a group that has been problematic in its organizing of these voter registration drives?
FRED VOIGT: Sure.
GRIFFIN: Have you tried to work with them to explain to them?
GRIFFIN: Why is —
VOIGT: I don’t have an answer for you, okay?
GRIFFIN: All right.
VOIGT: We originally — this has been going on for a number of years. We have met with them. We’ve talked to them.
GRIFFIN: According to city officials, close to 8,000 applications turned in by ACORN are problematic, including the 1,500 already sent to the U.S. Attorney, and officials expect the number to climb. Greg Voigt says so far his office is catching them, making sure no bad registrations lead to bad votes, but admits he has limited staff.
VOIGT: Are there going to be bad votes? Sure, there are going to be bad votes. There are always bad votes. Am I concerned this is a close election? Of course, I’m concerned it’s a close election. But, you have to weigh everything in terms of your capacity to find things out.
GRIFFIN: Voigt says the problem is ACORN hires people desperate for money, including drug addicts, homeless, recovering alcoholics, even recent parolees who only get paid if they get signatures.
VOIGT: You just look at them and it was all in the same hand. You know, if you see some where they used a phone book, including the apostrophe. You know, some of the —
GRIFFIN: Went down in the phone book and just copied it verbatim right now.
VOIGT: Kitchen petition.
GRIFFIN: Kitchen petition? Sitting around the kitchen, fill out the petition.
VOIGT: Fill out the petition. This happens.
GRIFFIN: We went to ACORN’s Philadelphia headquarters where a rally was taking place, telling volunteers the recent news about voter fraud was just another attack by the right wing and the media on the poor.
ACORN SPEAKER: That is fraud! That is voter suppression. That is not news.
GRIFFIN: Jeanette Marcano is the local ACORN chairperson who acknowledges ACORN hires the less fortunate, but says there is nothing wrong with that. Why is the Deputy City Commissioner of Philadelphia telling me that ACORN is hiring recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless people, who are so desperate to get money that they know that they don’t make their quota, they just fill in any old name, that’s what he’s telling me?
JEANETTE MARCANO: That is not the point.
GRIFFIN: That’s not the point?
MARCANO: No, that is not the point.
GRIFFIN: What is the point?
MARCANO: They are not deliberately go out there and say — you are homeless, you are a recovering alcoholic. You are –
GRIFFIN: But has it presented itself as a problem to ACORN? Wouldn’t ACORN like to run a nice, clean, smooth voter registration drive?
MARCANO: We have — we have done that. Because if we had been able to register 85,000, above 85,000, good registrants compared to 5,000 suspect cards, we have done a good job.
GRIFFIN: Kiran, last week I was in Indianapolis, or actually, Gary, Indiana, where they had dead people being registered to vote. ACORN insists it trains its workers and doesn’t have a big problem, but city officials here in Philadelphia beg to differ with that. Kiran?
CHETRY: Yeah, and in its defense, ACORN has said it is actually identifying these problematic registrations in advance and trying to notify authorities. In Philadelphia, ACORN said it flagged, I guess, 5,000 applications before the officials found them. Is that true?
GRIFFIN: Not according to the city officials, not true. They say that ACORN came in with a bundle of 1,100 that they thought were suspect. Actually, it turned out a couple of hundred of them were actually good voter registration cards that they processed and sent voter cards out to. So, there are a lot of disparities between the number that ACORN is getting and what city officials checking the actual records are getting, and that number, Kiran, is only going to grow as they continue to process more of these for this election.
Bad registrations aren’t the point? Of course not. Providing work to the less fortunate is the point, and who cares about whether they’re fraudulently submitting fake registrations? In essense, ACORN is saying that it doesn’t mind getting cheated, because the real point of their exercise isn’t to support democracy, but their own agenda.
Kudos to CNN and Griffin for their work in covering this story. We often have complaints about CNN’s editorial direction, but their work on this story has been surprisingly tenacious.