Saturday, May 16, 2009

Couple of days, and the story I won't let go of ...

So there are a couple of days to go until the primary. I’m voting for Dowd. He does not strike me as perfect, but no one is, especially among politicians. Still, he would be a clear step up from Ravenstahl, and Dowd’s the one running (yes, I am saying I regard Dowd's chances as better than Robinson's, and Robinson has not particularly impressed me either).

Bram is doing a fine job of covering that and other parts of the election (notably the South Hills and the West End, areas I know next to nothing about), so I urge you to visit the Pittsburgh Comet, or as I call it Bram’s Comet. Meanwhile, there is a small story that I have been following, about ACORN. I am not really following it that closely, but I did send a comment to OffQ, which they read on air last night. The set up is that last week they mentioned the story of the ACORN workers Stephen Zappala has accused of voter registration fraud. Now, I have to admit up front that some ACORN supervisors or offices might want to make themselves look good and so might have set up local quotas so they can meet some sort of registration goal. Apparently the national office says it does not set or condone registration quotas. At the same, it would surely be in the interest of the accused to workers to claim there is a quota for voter registrations. So far, from what I have read, there has not been an anecdotal, much less systematic investigation of ACORN’s actual voter registration effort that would indicate from a neutral source (ie, a registration worker not accused of fraud) whether there was a quota system. Maybe there is such a person or people, but the PG has not reported it yet.

But there are six or so ACORN temp workers accused of voter fraud. I assume the DA knows this because the forms were turned in. Were they flagged? ACORN says they would have been. From the reporting I don’t know if they were. Could they have been used to vote fraudulently? Maybe, you can construct a scenario where fraudulent voters travel from voting place to voting place, and vote in all these different districts. Of course, if that happened it would likely get out eventually (although by then we might be living in a communist country). I think this sort of concern is why ACRON tries as hard as it does to be transparent, to check registration forms. But ultimately, if ACORN is under the control of some evil organization, with millions of members who use fraudulent voting to increase their strength ten fold, then maybe anything could happen. A black man could be elected President.

Anyway, ACORN is also accused at the very least of clogging the elections registration system with registration forms, including and apparently most egregiously, the flagged forms. That was the line on OffQ last week I believe and this week, when my comment was read, Heather Heidelbaugh (sp?) was saying there is no (Pennsylvania? National?) law requiring ACORN to turn all forms in, even suspicious ones. Researching just a bit on Google, Wikipedia and the ACORN site, she may be correct about Pennsylvania. There is such a law in Indiana, and ACORN’s line is that when there is a question, the advice of their council is to turn all forms in. Look up the story on Spoul & Associates, and you will see why that is sound advice.

Why is the burden on ACORN to resolve problematic registration forms, anyway? There are several options for the County elections people that I can see. They could hire a temp service or outsourced firm to go through all the registration forms or just the problematic ones, and make calls themselves. They could set the problematic forms aside (we trust ACORN, right?), then go through when they are not gearing up for an election. If ACORN had marked many Republican registrations as problematic, when those people went to vote in would send up be red flags. Also, when they finally did go through the forms, if a pattern developed, they could alert the DA’s office or the FBI then and ACORN could be charged (the legislature might have to do something about the statute of limitations). Or the County elections department could ask for volunteers, say, lawyers like Heather H, who could put the time where their mouth is, and make some calls checking on registrations.

Anyway, I sent another comment to OffQ, but I wouldn’t hold out much hope that it will be read. This is one of those stories where the Republicans hope the Democrats are not going to stick their neck out, where the Republicans (and Stephen Zappala, apparently) hope that waving the flag will blind us to the hypocrisy of their charges.

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