Former Republican Sens. John Danforth of Missouri and Warren Rudman of New Hampshire are running the McCain-Palin 2008 Honest and Open Election Committee, and, according to them, they are running scared – scared of all the registration mischief out in the field that may just drop a bomb on Election 2008.
“Our mission is to make sure that everybody who is entitled to vote gets to vote without any intimidation, but also that there is no stuffing at the ballot boxes, no fraudulent voting, and also that the rules are the same for everybody,” announced Danforth at a teleconference with the media on Monday afternoon.
“I mean, one of our concerns is that on Election Day some polling places are kept open for extended periods of time and others are not, and that this is done to help one candidate versus the other,” Danforth added.
Both Rudman and Danforth voiced concern that there is or may be a pattern of registering people who are not entitled to vote, noting that of particular concern is an organization called The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
“We are concerned that ACORN has been connected with Senator [Barack] Obama and that he has ties to it,” said Danforth. “He directed something called Project Vote; he taught classes for future leaders that are identified by ACORN; and he has represented ACORN in court in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois. ACORN’s political action committee has endorsed Senator Obama.”
Danforth expressed alarm that ACORN has been bringing in large numbers of names, many who are not qualified to vote, and the practice may be “gumming” up the system. He added that after the enactment of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, there has been a requirement for statewide computerization of registered voters and that the local overseers may become overwhelmed by the sheer numbers being put forth by ACORN.
Between Danforth and Rudman, they ticked off an inventory of what they perceived as likely trouble spots: In Ohio in the last election, there were four counties where voter registration exceeded the number of voting-age people in the counties. In Colorado, ACORN registered some individuals 40 separate times. Danforth noted that the ACORN director in Ohio played this down, saying in effect just because you register somebody 35 times doesn’t mean that they get to vote 35 times. “So, a fairly cavalier attitude,” he concluded. In Nevada, nearly 1,000 felons were illegally registered to vote in 2004. In Washington state, felony charges were brought against ACORN workers and some went to jail. On Sept. 18th in The Washington Post, an article pointed out the danger that Election Day could become a real mess because of the applications turned in for registration of people who are not entitled to vote. In Michigan, ACORN enrolled 200,000 voters and a spokesman for the secretary of state of Michigan has said that there appears to be a sizable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications. The Clark County, Nev., registrar claims that there has been rampant fraud, and counts roughly 40 percent of registration applications submitted by ACORN from January through July had been rejected or questioned. In Pennsylvania, official are investigating ACORN for filing fraudulent voter registrations. One ACORN worker is facing 19 counts of perjury for making false statements. In Wisconsin, more allegations of fraud. Milwaukee election officials recently turned in 32 more voter registration workers to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution, bringing the total to 39.
The secretary of state of Ohio is, in effect, disenfranchising many who have relied on printed applications for absentee ballots -- claiming that because appropriate boxes not been checked on the card requesting the ballot that the person shouldn’t get the ballot. “So we are concerned that a lot of people who want to vote absentee in Ohio are not going to be able to do so,” concluded Danforth. Rudman zeroed in on the case of Michigan where “we believe that the Obama campaign has made really false claims about trying to suppress voters there.”
“Our concern is that if this is a close election ... and if one side believes it has been cheated ... it is going to be harder to heal the wounds that are created at election time,” said Danforth.
“[W]e have extended our hand to the Obama campaign and to the Democratic National Committee, hoping that ways can be found where we can work together toward what should be the common objective for both presidential candidates,” said Danforth.
When asked to comment on whether Florida was going to be a problem child this election cycle, the team would not directly respond.
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