ACORN’s sophomoric attempts at voter registration fraud have been festering in Las Vegas for months. The noise finally got so loud that Secretary of State Ross Miller had no choice but to raid the nonprofit.
After all, a week ago, Miller held a news conference to explain that individuals who have moved — or had their homes foreclosed — can still vote at their old precincts.
Miller has to put on the "top election official" face for good show with the stakes so high. So when canvassers submitted voter registration forms with the names of the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys, Miller had to make a goal-line stand to protect the integrity of the vast voter rolls here.
If he was going to warn those who might seek to use the foreclosure crisis to manipulate votes, he had little choice but to also get to the bottom of a voter registration mess in Southern Nevada.
Of course any group that sets up shop to register low-income voters is immediately going to come under scrutiny from Republican operatives.
But imagine if Miller, a Democrat, had opted not to conduct the raid. Two of his fellow constitutional officers (Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, John McCain’s Nevada campaign chairman, and GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons) would have called him out for looking the other way — to the benefit his own party.
Should Nevada come down to the wire — and if the presidential election hinges on the Silver State’s five electoral votes — accusations of a partisan operative in the secretary of state’s office would not be a good thing.
Two words: Katherine Harris.
ACORN’s work could not be allowed to go unchecked and unpublicized for that reason.
A few months ago, Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax said he flagged so many "fraudulent" voter forms coming in to his office through ACORN field workers that he took action.
Lomax told me recently that he thought there were about 400 fake forms in question. His office not only took them out of circulation, but also watched as new ones occasionally trickled in.
Lomax said he was given assurances by Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now officials that anyone involved had been fired. Lomax also told me ACORN claimed to have fired about 200 people.
These numbers are important.
ACORN is an organization that lives and breathes on public assistance, largely through federal and local community grants. It must appear to have enough clients (register enough voters, etc.) to continue receiving financial support.
Thus the group’s claims must be taken with a grain of salt.
The numbers just don’t add up. ACORN officials say the group registered 90,000 voters in Clark County this year. But as the close of registration approaches, the county has added roughly 100,000 new voters.
If ACORN’s claim were true, it would mean the McCain-Palin or Obama-Biden campaigns had registered very few people.
However, Lomax said that by the close of mail-in registration on Oct. 4, the Obama camp was bringing in roughly 2,000 to 3,000 forms at a time.
So authorities appear to have stopped major registration fraud. Thankfully, the ruse was so juvenile as to be spotted immediately.
Come on, they could have at least been creative and signed up the second string of the Detroit Lions instead of Terrell Owens.
The sad fact of the ACORN saga (new leadership there notwithstanding) is that these ham-handed attempts to thwart the system are crimes. And Miller had to do his little dog-and-pony raid.
Maybe they will identify 2,000 or 3,000 fraudulent forms. Maybe it’ll be a few hundred. Either way, what’s wrong is wrong.
And this sends a message to voters: If you really want to register to vote and participate in this election, do it yourself rather than with somebody outside a grocery store.
Each election cycle we hear stories of attempted manipulation of the process. In addition to ACORN, the most common complaint this year was about Republican operatives registering voters outside the Department of Motor Vehicles. They were registering only Republicans.
Both the state Democratic Party and the Obama campaign immediately distanced themselves from ACORN. And Republicans cried foul all the way up to Sen. John Ensign. Gibbons even got into the act.
Thankfully, we’ve passed the deadline for groups such as ACORN and the major campaigns to register voters. Now it is all up to the individual.
You can check your voter information on Miller’s Web site: silverstate08.com.
And you’ve got until Oct. 14 to register for this election.
You’ve just got to do it yourself.
Contact Erin Neff at (702) 387-2906, or by e-mail at email@example.com.