Nevada authorities raided the Las Vegas offices of a group registering voters in low income communities seeking evidence of voter registration fraud on Tuesday. Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now organizers are accused of forging signatures of names picked out of phone books and NFL players.
"Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada, and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4," said Secretary of State Ross Miller.
"There were some people that probably sat down on the couch and filled out names out of the phone book. When we talk about fraud, that's really what we're talking about here: not an attempt to steal an election," said Matthew Henderson, Southwest regional director for ACORN, on a call with reporters Tuesday afternoon.
But conservative columnist Michelle Malkin argues that this latest raid is emblematic of "systematic corruption of our election process" and not an example of a few staffers getting lazy and wanting to avoid 120 heat. She notes similar inquiries into questionable registration forms from the group collected across the country and ends the piece with an interesting (or is it race-baiting?) reference to an interview with a homeless Obama supporter quoted as saying, "I want him to do his thang. You know, do his thug thizzle." (quote at approx. 1:05 in clip)
Malkin ends her piece:
"Thug thizzle" is street slang for performing your trademark move. Obama and ACORN have practiced their thug thizzle together for years: organizing an ever-expanding community of ineligible and marginal voters to expand the Democratic power base. Rules be damned.
Community groups worry that the raid could negatively affect turnout. "My fear is that for disaffected voters of color who don't feel like political leaders are looking out for their interests, this will reinforce their disaffection," Steven Carbo, senior program director for Demos who works on voting rights, told the Las Vegas Sun.
Many conservative writers have attempted to link Obama to what they consider to be, to quote Stanley Kurtz, "the largest radical group on America" that faced a recent embezzlement scandal and various questions about the veracity of its voter registration campaigns over the years. The Obama camp has attempted to correct the record with its "Fight the Smears" campaign by simultaneously denying that Obama was a community organizer for the group and defending ACORN's efforts at the same time.
In their statement responding to the Las Vegas raid, ACORN accused officials of engaging in a political stunt that will impede their get out the vote efforts. The group said they immediately dismiss staffers who submit bad registrations and were caught off guard by the raid because they have been cooperative with state election officials since their current registration drive began:
For the past 10 months, any time ACORN has identified a potentially fraudulent application, we turn that application in to election officials separately and offer to provide election officials with the information they would need to pursue an investigation or prosecution of the individual.
Election officials routinely ignored this information and failed to act. In early July, ACORN asked to meet with election officials to express our concerns that they were not acting on information ACORN had presented to them.
If the group has been as cooperative as it claims, the raid "smells like a set-up" by Republicans as part of an "ongoing effort to keep people from voting in November," writes a DailyKos blogger. But the blogger concedes that Secretary of State Miller is a Democrat, perhaps taking some wind out of the "Republican conspiracy" argument.
Offering perhaps the best analysis with respect to the greater implications come election day in blueing Nevada, Las Vegas Sun political columnist Jon Ralston writes on his Flashpoint blog:
What a bonanza for depressed Republicans are the community organizing group's allegations of voter fraud. Suddenly, there are press releases and conference calls from energized Republicans. And I'm sure they're all chattering in the bar that this accounts for the entire Democratic registration edge in the state. To dare to dream...
Read the rest of the Battle For The West Daily Digest here.