ACORN: Not enough vote-fraud in Florida

Group backed by Tides Foundation, SEIU ducks embezzlement scandal

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires states to allow eligible persons to register to vote at various government locations, including motor vehicle and public assistance offices. According to one group, however, the state should sign up anyone who enters a public building, not just make the opportunity available.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) says Florida is not doing enough to help low-income residents register to vote when they apply for public aid. ACORN's Florida organizer, Brian Kettenring, told Tribune reporter Catherine Dolinski the state is even violating the civil rights of some residents.

This is nonsense, of course. The state, especially through its motor vehicles department, has done about all that government can do. Voting is a right that carries responsibility on the prospective voter's part. The state cannot force someone to register if they are not interested.

A study co-sponsored by ACORN found the number of voter registrations from public-assistance offices declined nationally by 79 percent between 1995-96 and 2005-06. However, the study failed to consider other factors, such as registration drives by community organizations and the implementation of welfare reform in 1996. According to the Department of Children & Families, the average number of Floridians receiving cash assistance fell from 569,000 in 1995-96 to 77,000 in 2007-08.

If ACORN wants to fight voter disenfranchisement, it should target the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which prohibits nonpartisan groups from holding voter-registration drives at its hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and offices. Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning has joined the chorus of criticism about this slap in the face to veterans.

But for able-bodied citizens, registering to vote has never been easier. Government shouldn't have to grab people by the hand.

ACORN may believe in a nanny state, but a strong democracy needs an active, educated citizenry that not only registers to vote, but studies the issues and votes on Election Day.

By the way, the deadline to register for the August primary is July 28.


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