Dick Morris baselessly accused ACORN of "committing voter fraud"

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

Fox News' Dick Morris baselessly accused ACORN of "committing voter fraud." In fact, ACORN does not stand accused of "committing voter fraud," and Morris did not point to any allegations that ACORN has engaged in voter fraud.

On the October 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris baselessly accused the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) of "committing voter fraud." In fact, ACORN does not stand accused of "committing voter fraud," and, during the segment, Morris did not cite a single allegation to support his assertion that ACORN has engaged in voter fraud.

Rather, according to an October 15 New York Times article, ACORN has "acknowledged cases where canvassers submitted false or duplicate registrations, but said they represented only a tiny fraction of the 1.3 million new voters the group signed up during this election cycle [emphasis added]." The Times reported that "Acorn officials said that in many states they were required by law to turn in all registration forms even if they were deemed problematic." The Times did not report that what Acorn said is true: Many states indeed require ACORN to submit all registration forms it received.

As New York University's Brennan Center for Justice stated in a 2007 report titled "The Truth About Voter Fraud," voter fraud is "fraud by voters" and "occurs when individuals cast ballots despite knowing that they are ineligible to vote, in an attempt to defraud the election system."

From the Brennan Center's report:

What Is Voter Fraud?

"Voter fraud" is fraud by voters.

More precisely, "voter fraud" occurs when individuals cast ballots despite knowing that they are ineligible to vote, in an attempt to defraud the election system.

This sounds straightforward. And yet, voter fraud is often conflated, intentionally or unintentionally, with other forms of election misconduct or irregularities.

The Brennan Center report later stated:

There have been several documented and widely publicized instances in which registration forms have been fraudulently completed and submitted. But it is extraordinarily difficult to find reported cases in which individuals have submitted registration forms in someone else's name in order to impersonate them at the polls. Furthermore, most reports of registration fraud do not actually claim that the fraud happens so that ineligible people can vote at the polls. Indeed, we are aware of no recent substantiated case in which registration fraud has resulted in fraudulent votes being cast.

Similarly, the Politico's Ben Smith noted in an October 9 post titled "Two kinds of fraud" that there is a "key distinction" between "voter fraud" and "voter registration fraud." From Smith's post:

Two kinds of fraud

"Acorn" may not exactly be a household word, but it was on the cover of one of the newspapers I read in hard copy today, so it seemed worth getting into a marginal story that the GOP is trying to make central.

The key distinction here is between voter fraud and voter registration fraud, one of which is truly dangerous, the other a petty crime.

The former would be, say, voting the cemeteries or stuffing the ballot boxes. This has happened occasionally in American history, though I can think of recent instances only in rare local races. Practically speaking, this can most easily be done by whoever is actually administering the election, which is why partisan observers carefully oversee the vote-counting process.

The latter is putting the names of fake voters on the rolls, something that happens primarily when organizations, like Acorn, pay contractors for new voter registrations. That can be a crime, and it messes up the voter files, but there's virtually no evidence these imaginary people then vote in November. The current stories about Acorn don't even allege a plan to affect the November vote.

From the October 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

MORRIS: But the point is that Obama is funding a group that is committing voter fraud, and that's a character question.

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Right, so he should --

MORRIS: And --

CARLSON: So should he come out and denounce them, or will he just be able to continue to kind of half-answer the question about his involvement with it? And also, it seems to me, though -- it seems to me that Barack Obama is baiting John McCain, as well, to talk about things like ACORN and Bill Ayers tonight, because he's on record as saying, "Hey, he didn't do it. You know, he somehow didn't have enough -- whatever it takes -- to bring it up."

MORRIS: Well, McCain is going to work on trying to nail the Jell-O to the wall, and that's going to be hard, but I hope he can do it.

Posted In
Elections, Voting Rights & Issues
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Dick Morris
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, 2008 Elections
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