UPDATED: The Real ACORN: Anti-Employee, Anti-Union, Big-Business

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In the 18 months since the Employment Policies Institute’s May 2003 report exposed the hypocrisy
of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), this group has continued its pattern of outrageous activities. As the 2004 presidential election season moved into full swing, ACORN (and their subsidiary Project Vote) has been implicated in several voter fraud cases in states across the nation.

ACORN’s most serious violations have occurred in Florida, where an ACORN-operated political action committee, Floridians for All, is actively supporting a ballot initiative to raise the state minimum wage to $6.15 an hour (a higher wage than many ACORN employees receive). In St. Petersburg,
ACORN submitted a false voter registration card
for Charles Schuh. Schuh, a 68-year-old former
Democratic mayor and city council member, was registered as a 30-year-old female Republican. While
one may be tempted to write this off as simple sloppiness (a plausible thought, considering this is the same organization that failed to turn in thousands of voter registration cards on time, resulting in voters being denied the opportunity to participate in the primary), this is clearly another case of voter fraud. When Schuh asked to see his supposed registration card, he found that someone had signed his name but it “was certainly not [his] signature.” In addition, Schuh noticed his social security number had been altered.

Recent statements by former ACORN Miami-Dade field director Mac Stuart reveal that Schuh’s case is actually part of a larger organized effort to rig the outcome of Florida’s presidential election and minimum wage ballot initiative. Stuart claims
that “there was a lot of fraud committed” at ACORN, including quality-control workers routinely removing registration cards for Republican voters. Stuart said that ACORN submitted thousands of invalid registration cards and failed to turn in boxes of registration cards for Republican voters. Stuart claims that “the voter registration project has been operating illegally since it started.”
2 In order to meet the quota for voter registration
cards established by ACORN, Stuart and other Miami employees targeted Florida felons by setting up voter registration booths outside of the Miami police department and Dade County jail. These activities are all motivated by ACORN’s practice of paying for each voter registration card collected—a third degree felony under Florida law.

ACORN’s fraudulent activities were not limited to
voter registration cards. ACORN employees routinely
accepted signatures for the minimum wage ballot initiative from individuals who were not currently
registered to vote—a requirement under Florida law. ACORN employees also backdated registration cards in order to gather these signatures. Statements from former employees reveal that few ACORN directors actually conducted a rigorous fraud check on the signatures gathered by their employees. Those who did found significant numbers of blatantly doctored signatures.

This pattern of voter registration fraud in
Florida should come as no surprise to anyone
with a cursory knowledge of ACORN’s actions
around the country:

• In November 2003, election board officials in
St. Louis, MO, finished their review of ACORN gathered election registration cards. ACORN
submitted 5,379 cards in this city, of which only2,013 appeared to be valid. Of these, at least
1,000 are believed to be attempts to register voters
illegally.

• In August 2004, election officials in Albuquerque, NM, discovered that an ACORN employee, Christina Gonzales, registered a 13-year-old boy to vote. This registration was only discovered by the boy’s mother when a voter card showed up in the mail. The card contained an incorrect social security number, a fabricated birthday, and only a partially correct address. ACORN’s actions led New Mexico State Representative Joe Thompson to state that they were “manufacturing voters” throughout New
Mexico. Interestingly, while Gonzales was fired
by ACORN, it was not for manufacturing voters,
but rather for claiming credit for registration
cards submitted by other employees.

• In Ohio, ACORN has been accused of several
acts of voter fraud. In June, 74-year-old Arthur
Creasap had a voter registration card submitted
with a false birth date and a misspelled name.
Franklin County Board of Election Supervisors
Director Matthew Damschroder said the “blatantly
false” forms were turned in by ACORN and Project Vote. In June, ACORN was forced to fire two employees after it was discovered that they turned in registration forms that were duplicates and contained false information. In Cuyahoga County, OH, ACORN submitted registration cards that had the highest percentage of errors, 15%. Most egregiously, an ACORN employee in Columbus has been indicted for forging signatures and falsifying voter registration cards.

• During a traffic stop in Minnesota, police found
more than 300 voter registration cards in the car
trunk of 19-year-old Joshua Reed, a former ACORN employee.6 The cards were weeks and even months old, despite the fact that the law requires they be submitted to the secretary of state within 10 days of being filled out and signed.

• In Pennsylvania, Reading’s Director of Elections
received numerous calls from individuals registered
by ACORN complaining that those taking down the voter information deliberately put inaccurate information on the form.

• Kym Cason admitted to registering three of her
friends to vote 40 times to help her boyfriend,
whom ACORN paid $2 for each voter he signed up. Cason admitted to forging signatures and filling out her friend’s information to the best of her knowledge.

• In 1998, a single mother of three in Arkansas
was arrested for falsifying approximately 400
voter registration cards. Some of the addresses
listed on these applications were traced to
vacant lots, boarded-up buildings, abandoned
buildings, and nonexistent house numbers. The woman was a contractor of Project Vote, a subsidiary of ACORN. (Project Vote was involved in the scandal that brought down Ron Carey, former president of the Teamsters. In 1996, Carey arranged for a $175,000 contribution to Project Vote in exchange for reciprocal contributions to his campaign for presidency of the Teamsters.)