When John McCain charged that the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) was “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country,” he was lambasted as overreacting, but a scholar thinks otherwise.
ACORN members in Colorado, Washington, Wisconsin and Missouri have been convicted of voter registration fraud, and investigations are open in Nevada, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana, but the expert opines there may be yet more dangerous chicanery to come.
Kevin A. Hassett, a senior fellow at the director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, thinks that it is a short step from registering people who either don’t exist or aren’t eligible to vote -- to outright voter fraud.
“ACORN’s defenders have said that the actions of overzealous ACORN workers to register Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck won’t influence the election because ‘Mickey’ will never vote,” says Hassett.
Not true, Hassett says, noting that dangerous scams that really distort the bottom line at the polls would begin with actions similar to ACORN’s. As he outlines: Someone fills out a large number of fake registrations. For convenience, the scammer could register fictional people at his own address. Then, the scammer requests absentee ballots for all these individuals. (Federal law requires that first-time voters submit their vote with some form of identification. Some states consider such things as utility bills acceptable. It would be pretty simple for the scammer to falsify utility bills for each fake voter and mail them in with the absentee ballots). Alternately, anyone with access to public voter-registration records could cull a list of individuals who have died, moved or failed to vote in past elections and request absentee ballots for them. These ballots could be mailed in and likely would be counted. In many states, the only check would be whether the signature on the ballots matches the registration card. Fraud at the voting place is conceivable as well, but probably would be harder to pull off. The simplest scam would be for a poll worker to call up co-conspirators late on Election Day and read a list of individuals who haven’t voted. The co-conspirators could then report to the polls under those names.
“Legal experts are aware of all of these problems and have begun to work on fixes,” remarks Hassett. “A first step is allowing absentee ballots or early voting only when there is a reasonable cause for the voter to be unable to vote, such as a hospital stay.”
“It is hard to see how any responsible individual could defend the current system,” he concludes.
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