Replacing ACORN with universal fraud

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Union-backed fraud group sets nation on a course for permanent vote-rigging

The nation's much-maligned election system passed a major test last week when more than 132 million Americans, a record total, cast ballots with few reports of problems.

But now, election reformers are calling for a move toward a "universal voter-registration" system, in which the government takes the lead in ensuring that all eligible citizens are registered to vote.

"This means the registration process would no longer serve as a barrier to the right to vote," said Wendy Weiser, lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. "It would also eliminate the ACORN issue and all the gaming of the system."

In the United States, unlike other major democracies, citizens, not the government, are responsible for seeing to it that they are registered. And when they move, even if just across town, they must update their registration.

In 2004, more than

1 in 4 American adults was not on the voter rolls. Since then, private organizations such as the League of Women Voters and activist groups such as ACORN, which advocates for people in low-income communities, launched major voter-registration drives. These groups do not put voters on the rolls. They simply turn in applications from people who sign forms saying they want to register.

But ACORN, among others, was criticized for submitting a huge number of registration cards with questionable information and cards from people who were already registered.

''All across America, our people wasted untold hours dealing with duplicate registrations,'' said Doug Lewis, executive director of the National Association of Election Officials.

Many more Americans encounter a more mundane problem -- failing to update their registration after they move.

''The current system is simply not designed for a mobile society,'' the Brennan Center said in its report on universal voter registration. Under its proposal, states could update their computerized voter rolls when residents move from one city to another. And they could add new voters who move to the state and apply for new driver's licenses.

Under some proposals, teens would be automatically added to the voter rolls when they turn 18, and Congress could create a national voter-registration roll that's modeled after the Social Security database.

''Registration reform will be the big issue going forward,'' said Doug Chapin of Electionline.org. ''All this last-minute litigation has heightened the concern that we need to consider a universal or automatic voter-registration system.''

Some election officials question whether a national system would gain support.

''We will need to think hard about this. It's true that in most developed democracies, the government takes on this role, and it's a top-down system. But ours has been a bottom-up system, because our founders were suspicious of a centralized election authority,'' said Lewis, whose group represents state and county election officials.

''Because a lot of work was done on the front end, we were able to avoid major meltdowns,'' said Tova Wang, a voting-rights expert at Common Cause.

Some experts also predicted a new push to enact a federal law that would make it a crime to send false and deceptive information about voting, either through the mail or via the Internet.

''It's amazing how many e-mails with deliberate misleading information were sent out this year,'' Wang said. Legislation to ban this practice was introduced in the last Congress, but it did not become law. It stands a good chance to win approval next year, she said.

One reason for her optimism: A key sponsor of last year's bill to outlaw deceptive election fliers was Sen. Barack Obama.


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