The Wall Street Journal asserted that Sen. Barack Obama's "kind of organizers work at Acorn, the militant advocacy group that is turning up in reports about voter fraud across the country." The editorial cited as evidence reports that ACORN submitted allegedly false or duplicate voter registration applications this year in Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Connecticut, and Texas. But the editorial did not note that the statutes of at least nine of those 11 states require third parties registering prospective voters to submit to election officials all registration forms they received -- even those they believed to be false or duplicate applications.
Matt Drudge is hyping a report that Orange County, Florida rejected a voter registration form filled out in the name of "Mickey Mouse":
Drudge's sensationalist headlines aside, this isn't evidence of a problem with ACORN; it is evidence of the system working. Elections officials rejected an apparently illegitimate registration form.
Drudge suggests ACORN did something wrong in submitting the registration form in the first place. But ACORN shouldn't be in the position of deciding which registrations are legitimate and which are not; that's why we have elections officials. There are two clear problems with placing that burden on a private organization.
First, private organizations shouldn't make decisions about which forms are submitted because there would be too much potential for wrongdoing in such a scenario - an organization shredding voter registration forms for people attempting to register in the "wrong" party, for example.
Second, it may seem obvious that some forms are illegitimate. That's Drudge's point here - Hahahaha, they tried to register Mickey Mouse! Fools! But here's the thing: there are 32 people named "Mickey Mouse" listed in the White Pages nationwide, including two in Florida:
Now, that doesn't mean the registration form in question was legitimate. It probably wasn't. After all, elections officials tossed it. (Which, again, means that the system worked, and no illegal ballot was cast.)
What it does show is that in a nation of 300 million people, there are a lot of names. Some of them might seem funny to Matt Drudge. Some of them might seem obviously fake to Matt Drudge. That doesn't mean they are. That's why election officials, not ACORN or Matt Drudge, should make that determination.
UPDATE: On MSNBC, NBC deputy political director Mark Murray just referred to "Harry Potter" and "Han Solo" as other obviously fake names. There are 77 Harry Potters in the White Pages. No Han Solos, but there is a Hans Solo. And 8 Luke Skywalkers. This is really simple: You cannot tell that a voter registration form is illegitimate based solely on the name.
Fox News' Megyn Kelly mocked ACORN's statement that it was required under Florida law to submit a voter registration form filed under the name "Mickey Mouse" to the Orange County, Florida, board of elections. In fact, Florida law calls for entities withholding voter registration forms to face a fine of $1,000 for each registration they withhold.
FNC has gone all in on the ACORN voter registration story in recent days. Since Friday, Fox News has mentioned the community organizing group 342 times, according to TVeyes.com. (That's compared to the 61 mentions on CNN.)
Here's a glimpse of what Fox News' ACORN-mania looked like on Monday.
In an interview with Sen. John McCain, Fox News' Sean Hannity misstated Sen. Barack Obama's position on defense spending, then invited McCain to criticize Obama for proposing to "slow the development of Future Combat Systems" without noting that the McCain campaign itself has said that program "should be ended."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer is currently interviewing three journalists:
And, of course, no liberal to balance Hayes.
The American Prospect's Adam Serwer explains the basic problem with CNN's report about ACORN: "CNN is unable or unwilling to make the critical distinction between registration fraud and voter fraud."
That's a huge distinction. Here's CNN's Drew Griffin last night:
GRIFFIN: ACORN's voting registration drives are under investigation or suspicion in several states. Just yesterday, local authorities raided this ACORN office in Las Vegas where ACORN workers allegedly registered members of the Dallas Cowboys football team.
And here's how Griffin ended his report:
GRIFFIN: It absolutely is a crime. That was a fraud, somebody who filled out those forms. And I looked at them, Anderson. They're obviously a fraud.
But the election workers say we have to turn this over to the actual elected board of elections. The board of elections has to then bring in the county attorney to see if an investigation, a criminal investigation, should begin. So all of that will be, you know, weeks, maybe even months down the road, and of course, that's going to be after the election.
By noting that the "criminal investigation" might not come until "after the election," Griffin suggests the fraud will have an effect on the outcome of the election. This is alarmist: Unless those members of the Dallas Cowboys actually show up to vote in Nevada, the fact that someone registered them to do so won't make a bit of difference on election day.
From time to time, people whose job is to sign up new votes are going to fill out voter registrations for Mickey Mouse to pad their totals. That's a problem, but it isn't going to affect vote totals unless Mickey Mouse actually shows up to vote. But you wouldn't know that from the media's frenzied reporting of the Republicans' biennial attacks.
Every election year, conservatives start screaming about "voter fraud." And the media pays a great deal of attention. And, when all is said and done, there is typically a negligible amount of actual voter fraud.
Meanwhile, as we've been reminded in recent election cycles, voter disenfranchisement does happen.
You'd think the media would have learned by now. And yet they're in a frenzy over the Right's attacks on ACORN ... and all but ignoring stories like this:
Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York Times.
The New York Times uncritically quoted Sen. John McCain saying of Sen. Barack Obama: "[A]s recently as September of last year he said that subprime loans had been, quote, a good idea." The article did not mention that McCain was distorting Obama's comments from a September 2007 speech, as several media outlets -- including the Times -- noted when McCain previously made the same accusation against Obama.
During a report on ABC's Good Morning America, David Wright stated that Gov. Sarah Palin "accus[ed]" Sen. Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists," but did not note that The New York Times, in the article Palin cited in making that claim, reported that "the two men do not appear to have been close."
ABC is refusing to air an Alliance for Climate Protection ad criticizing "big oil" for "spending hundreds of millions of dollars" on lobbyists and ads to "block clean energy."
I wonder how much of that ad money has gone to ABC?
More than 100,000 people have already sent a message urging ABC to air the ad.
UPDATE: Apparently this is ABC's excuse for not running the ad:
"Per our Guidelines, national buildings may be used in advertising provided the depictions are incidental to the advertiser's promotion of the product or service. Given the messages and themes of this commercial, the image of the Capital building is not incidental to this advertising. Please replace the image with one that is not of another national building or monument."
"Not incidental"? The ad is 30 seconds long. The Capital building is on-screen for less than two of those seconds.
The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Morning Joe reported Cindy McCain's attack on Sen. Barack Obama that his "vote to not fund my son while he was serving sent a cold chill through my body." However, none of their reports noted that Sen. John McCain himself voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Right-wing radio talker Hugh Hewitt still can't find a publisher for his book, How Sarah Palin Won the Election... And Saved America, according to The New York Observer. In fact, his agent has given up trying to sell the project.
Maybe Hewitt, who last year wrote a Mitt-Romney's-gonna-be-president book, should go with a Plan B book proposal: How George Bush Transformed America and Left It A Stronger Country.
The CBS Evening News, Fox News' The Live Desk, and the Politico's Jonathan Martin noted Cindy McCain's attack on Sen. Barack Obama that his "vote to not fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body." However, none of their reports pointed out that Sen. John McCain himself voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Charlotte Observer reports on a new VoteVets ad:
Meanwhile, a veterans' group is spending $200,000 on TV ads saying [NC Sen. Elizabeth] Dole voted against body armor for troops.
The ad by VoteVets.org features a man identified as an Iraq war veteran firing shots from an AK-47 through a flak jacket given out early in the war. He also fires into more modern body armor, which stops the shots. It claims Dole twice voted against the more modern armor.
The ad appears to be the same one used in 2006 in a Virginia Senate race. According to the watchdog site FactCheck.org, the votes came on a 2003 amendment that would have appropriated just over $1 billion for unspecified "National Guard and Reserve Equipment" but made no mention of body armor. The amendment lost on a generally party-line vote.
The group called the ad false.
Here's the short version:
But as Media Matters for America noted in response to FactCheck's September 20 analysis, [FactCheck.org director Brooks] Jackson's assertion that "[t]here has never been a vote on body armour" is false. Allen opposed an October 2003 amendment offered by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), which would have provided additional funding explicitly for body armor. Moreover, Landrieu repeatedly stated on the House floor that the bill would ensure that National Guard soldiers had "helmets" and other "force protection" equipment intended to "minimize causalities." And in a March 26, 2003, press release, Landrieu further explained that the bill "targets shortfalls identified by the National Guard and Reserve in their Unfunded Requirement lists," including the "shortage of helmets, tents, bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests."