Brian O’Neill did a piece on ACRON yesterday. He took pains to be “fair and balanced” but I think that took him too far down the path conservatives take. Seven local ACORN temp workers were arrested for voter fraud just recently. O’Neill had actually walked door to door with one of the arrested workers back in 2004, and while he doesn’t say anything personally bad about the man, he does indicate he was fired a couple of years ago for “cutting corners”. In fact, the two main thrusts of O’Neill column are that (a) the conservatives claims that ACORN is trying to steal an election are false and (b) ACORN’s claims of registering tens of thousands of voters here and more than a million nationwide are (in his opinion) false as well. And it is the county election department workers who get stuck with dealing with the problem.
OK, O’Neill may be right that ACORN is not succeeding in registering enough people. But I think he gave inadequate credit to ACORN for it’s own efforts to police itself (at least as reported on the KD/PG program last fall). ACORN apparently acts as a jobs program, especially for people who ordinarily can’t get jobs, during the election cycle. Not only do they hire canvassers who sign people up to vote, they hire people to call the names on those voter cards. If they can’t get a response after three calls, they flag the card. Or if the response they get on the phone is suspicious or clearly not form the name on the card, they flag the card. But since these are voter registration cards, where the person’s signature indicates they swear they are who they say they are and are not already registered, etc etc, and given the history of voter intimidation in this country, ACORN turns in every voter registration card, but flags the ones a reasonable person might say to tear up.
I myself can’t be totally sympathetic with ACORN. They hire people who are out of work before elections, and sometimes these are people they have hired before. That indicates to me that some of the hires are not people temporarily displaced, but rather seem incapable of finding a permanent job (some of them). And ACORN’s system of trying to generate productivity has not found the right balance yet (and may never). And I too sympathize with the County election workers who have to sort out these registration cards. But, again. given the history of minorities being able to actually vote in this country, ACORN is actually performing an important public service for us all. Except, apparently, the those conservatives who want to see the likes of George W Bush in office.
There was also a piece on assessments in yesterday's PG, but that will have to wait for a few days. I'm pretty busy at work.