ACORN's voter registrations questioned

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Union-backed voter fraud group has ties to Barack Obama for President campaign

Thousands of allegedly fake voter registrations by a nationwide organization are being investigated. At least nine states are reviewing voter paperwork, and Allegheny County police are looking into similar accusations.

Employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, commonly known as ACORN, are under investigation in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin since local election officials started noticing irregularities among the thousands of registrations submitted by ACORN.

The ACORN organizer in one state said the organization had no way of checking all registrations.

Officials in Missouri, a hard-fought jewel in the presidential race, are sifting through possibly hundreds of questionable or duplicate voter-registration forms.

Charlene Davis, co-director of the election board in Jackson County, where Kansas City is, said the fraudulent registration from ACORN were bogging down work Wednesday, the final day Missourians could register to vote.

"I don't even know the entire scope of it because registrations are coming in so heavy," Davis said. "We have identified about 100 duplicates, and probably 280 addresses that don't exist, people who have driver's license numbers that won't verify or Social Security numbers that won't verify. Some have no address at all."

Jess Ordower, Midwest director of ACORN, said his group hasn't done any registrations in Kansas City since late August.

In April, eight ACORN workers in St. Louis city and county pleaded guilty to federal election fraud for submitting false registration cards for the 2006 election. U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said they submitted cards with false addresses and names, and forged signatures.

Ordower said ACORN registered about 53,500 people in Missouri this year. He believes his group is being targeted because some politicians don't want that many low-income people having a voice.

Some applications were made under obviously false names, such as the Dallas Cowboys' starting lineup registered in Nevada; others had multiple registrations under the same name, but with different addresses or birthdays.

Similar questions have arisen about voter registrations in Pennsylvania, but Allegheny County elections officials did not return phone calls requesting comment.

"Our office received a referral regarding questionable activities regarding voter registration forms," said Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. "That matter is now being investigated by county police."

Manko could not say whether the questionable registrations involved ACORN because the investigation is ongoing.

"We don't comment on whether we have an active investigation," county police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said. "We look at anything that's brought to our attention, but I can't comment on any specific (investigation)."

ACORN national communications director Charles Jackson said the Allegheny County chapter has registered more than 40,000 voters in the Pittsburgh area, but he could not confirm whether there is an investigation.

"Anytime there's been a problem, we have been very proactive in notifying authorities," he said.

In Lake County, Ind., Elections Board Director Sally LaSota told The (Munster) Times newspaper that out of 2,000 new voter applications dropped off by ACORN employees, "about 1,100 were no good."

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, ACORN's Cleveland organizer suggested the organization did not have the time or resources to catch every instance of employees submitting false registrations in order to meet quotas and get paid for the day's work.

Jackson said canvass workers are paid by the hour and don't have to meet quotas.

ACORN Interim Chief Organizer Bertha Lewis said the organization reviews its own registrations when they are submitted by canvassers, flagging suspicious registrations for follow-up by local elections officials and offering to help them follow up with any investigation into the employees submitting them.

In a statement, ACORN officials said staffers try to call every voter listed on registration cards before they are submitted, and those they can't reach are flagged and submitted separately.

In Clark County, Nev., ACORN met with election officials in July about canvassers they suspected of submitting fake registrations, re-sent information about the questionable applications and answered subpoenas when they came, Lewis said.


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