As everyone knows, John McCain and the GOP have been attacking ACORN for weeks. We’ve been pretty successful in recent weeks debunking their unfounded claims, but the traditional media’s been so complicit in facilitating the attacks that they’ve largely missed the greater threat to a free and fair election this year: voter suppression and intimidation.
Already, reports from around the U.S. confirm the fact that voters are facing active campaigns to prevent their participation at the polls, coordinated by partisan operatives and now, insidiously involving law enforcement agencies at all levels, from the local all the way to the Department of Justice.
According to Project Vote, these instances of intimidation include everything from a county sheriff in Ohio announcing that he and his office were “seeking information” about hundreds of registered voters who voted during Ohio’s five-day window of same-day registration and voting (despite recent court proceedings upholding the lawfulness of the practice) to a call issued by the GOP in Wisconsin to policemen, security personnel, and firefighters to serve as “volunteer poll watchers” in inner city precincts.
But ACORN and its allies are fighting back.
In New Mexico, two lawsuits have been brought against Justine Fox-Young; Al Romero, a private investigator; and John/Jane Does of the Republican Party of New Mexico for their attempts to intimidate voters. In fact, Project Vote, an ACORN affiliate, has recently joined with the ACLU in filing one of these suits against representatives of New Mexico’s Republican Party. And the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is representing two Hispanic women against Pat Rogers, a lawyer of the Republican party in New Mexico who is accused of intimidating the women by sending a private investigator to question their eligibility to vote.
At a recent ACORN press conference, nineteen-year-old Francisco Martinez, a legal voter registered last spring by ACORN who is part of the ACLU suit in New Mexico, spoke out about the suspected illegal use by GOP members of his registration information in an attempt to intimidate him. Martinez spoke directly to those who misused his information, saying, “I won’t be intimidated. In fact, I voted early, and my vote will count.”
Steve Kest, Executive Director of ACORN, urged Senator McCain to make the first move in reining in the GOP. “Senator McCain needs to instruct his operatives and supporters to cease and desist,” Kest said. “Nothing is more important to the fabric of our democracy than protecting the rights of American voters.”
And what’s happening in New Mexico is just an example of problems faced by voters across the country. Project Vote’s diary on the front page of Open Left lists several other ominous instances of law enforcement’s involvement in efforts to keep legitimate voters away from the polls. According to Project Vote:
Also in Ohio, county prosecutor Joe Deters initiated a grand jury investigation and issued subpoenas for unredacted personal information on 40% of the 671 new voters who cast ballots during Ohio’s five-day window of same-day registration and voting. Deters-citing unspecified allegations of “voter fraud”-launched the investigation and took it upon himself to conduct some attempts to match these voters to government databases and investigate those he determined had problems.
And, in Wisconsin,
Last month, the Republican Attorney General of Wisconsin, J.B. Van Hollen-who is also co-chair of that state’s McCain-Palin campaign-filed a lawsuit against the state’s Government Accountability Board to force them to cross-check more than 240,000 voter registrations against driver’s license records. The impact of the lawsuit would have been to force the voters to use provisional ballots, calling their votes into question and tying up the polls on Election Day.
A judge ruled against Van Hollen’s lawsuit, but he and the Wisconsin Republican Party intend to appeal.
ACORN is fighting against these tactics. Not only has ACORN launched its first-ever TV ad, which targets voter suppression, but it is involved in a large-scale GOTV effort to ensure that the low-income voters, voters of color and young voters it helped register can get to the polls, vote, and have their vote counted.
You can help ACORN fight back by going here to sign the petition calling on John McCain to stop the baseless attacks on ACORN and new voters and then by making sure you spread the word, including with the ad and this video rebutting all of the Republicans’ absurd and ridiculous claims about ACORN’s work. Pass it on.