Voter-fraud probed in Cleveland area

More ACORN stories: here

Elections officials cite pattern of abuse by union-backed group ACORN

Are you registered to vote sweetheart," asked Rubie Cardwell as an elderly man walked past her on the sidewalk of an East Cleveland strip mall. Cardwell is on the payroll of the group known as "ACORN," the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Since 2006, Cardwell has been working to register voters in urban sections of Cuyahoga County. "I think I have signed up at least 1,500 voters," Cardwell said.

ACORN had a part-time staff of 30 who worked five days a week to find unregistered people. Each worker made $8 an hour and was urged to sign up at least 20 voters in each five-hour shift.

"If people do honest work we will keep them on staff working," said Kristopher Harsh, ACORN organizer. "We ask that they work hard enough to be able to register 20 people per day. But we do not pay them a fee based on how many cards they get filled out."

However, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections believes that several ACORN workers turned in flawed voter registration cards. Some cards showed that the same person lived at different addresses.

"It's a responsibility on ACORN to make sure they are getting valid registration cards," said Jane Platten, Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. "And ACORN needs to be held accountable for that. And that's what we are doing now here at the Board."

Platten pointed to the case of Freddie Johnson, who apparently lives at 2551 park midway. Johnson filled out 73 different voter registration cards.

The Board of Elections has red flagged voter registration cards like Johnson's. Board workers want to make sure that no one is trying to commit voter fraud.

"Yes, there may be isolated problems," said ACORN's Kristopher Harsh. "But the issues that we are having represent less than 1/1000 of the people that we've registered this year. We are trying to spread democracy and not cause problems/"

ACORN has already submitted more than 75,000 voter registration cards this year in Cuyahoga County. And now employees at the Board of Elections are triple checking every one.


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