Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

A former senator today said the November results already have been “tainted” by actions of ACORN, and the 2008 election could be a nightmare worse than the 2000 dispute in Florida.

John Danforth, a former Missouri senator and ambassador to the United Nations, said the actions of the organization, which has been accused in more than a dozen states of submitting fraudulent voter registrations, are “just plain wrong.”

Cited were problems that included a voter registration for Mickey Mouse in Florida, voter cards in Indiana with the name of the Jimmy John restaurant chain, one man’s 73 registrations in Ohio – for which he testified on a video he was offered money and cigarettes, and 10 registrations for a dead Missouri woman.

Those violations are just the tip of the iceberg of the controversy that is putting officials for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, on the defensive. The group held its own news conference to suggest Republicans were raising the issue of fake voter registrations to divert attention away from other issues.

But at a Washington news conference, Danforth worried over the potential for a 2008 disaster on Nov. 4.

“The issue could be whether it is fair at all and whether the losing side believes it has been fairly defeated or it has been cheated. … We believe that this is a potential nightmare,” he said.

Danforth said this year’s election could be “even worse than 2000,” when literally hundreds of attorneys and others disputed for days over the Florida recount, which escalated to the U.S. Supreme Court before it was resolved in favor of then-Gov. George W. Bush over ex-Vice President Al Gore.

Danforth and former New Hampshire Sen. Warren Rudman, both supporters of GOP candidate Sen. John McCain, suggested both his and Sen. Barack Obama’s campaigns identify potential trouble spots and assign volunteers to monitor voting there.

Rudman noted that many of the problems have been blamed on people paid by ACORN to register new voters.

But officials for the Employment Policies Institute, who have monitored ACORN’s activities over the years and have published a RottenAcorn.com website to publicize its problems, say the organization has a long history of exactly the same types of disputes.

Spokeswoman Sarah Longwell told WND while most people now are just becoming familiar with ACORN, the organization has been around for years and almost invariably pops up at election time facing accusations of rampant voter fraud.

“I think why people are paying attention now is because Obama used to work for them, and according to the Wall Street Journal, has given them $800,000.”

She told WND the organization typically blames “rogue” local organizers for the fraudulent names and addresses submitted to election officials.

“This is a pattern and practice these guys have every election cycle,” she said.

So will there be problems with the 2008 election?

“I do think there will be a higher level of scrutiny of the organization during the national election,” she said. “There absolutely needs to be. You don’t put in false registrations if there is not an effort afoot to do something.”

She disputes the group’s description of itself as non-partisan.

“They are absolutely partisan. They only try to register Democrats. We as a nation need to scrutinize everything that ACORN does. They simply cannot be trusted,” Longwell said.

“Even if we take their leadership at their word, that they’ve got [some] rogue leaders, it happens so often and is so rampant that the organization is not effectively policing their workers.”

Jake Tapper on the ABC blog website noted that Obama campaign officials were forced to backtrack recently for a statement that said, “Barack was never an ACORN training and never worked for ACORN in any other capacity.”

The report said Obama did, in fact, work as an unpaid leader for training sessions in Chicago in the 1990s. The report said Obama also represented ACORN then in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois over voter registration issues.

Investor’s Business Daily reported that not only has Obama worked with ACORN, he’s promised to let its members have input into how he would shape an agenda for a presidency.

A YouTube video also reveals Obama making a commitment to involve ACORN in his policy-creating process:

Former Federal Election Commission member Hans von Spakovsky told Fox News that fraudulent voter registrations disenfranchise legitimate voters by delaying the process run by election offices across the nation.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, joined several dozen other House Republicans today in calling for an investigation into the funding that ACORN has received from the federal government to operate housing and other programs.

The Blue Collar Muse on Conservablogs described ACORN’s work as a “strategy for voter fraud.”

“Much has been made of the Democrats 50 state strategy to win the election. Who knew there was a fall back 15 state strategy to steal it if they couldn’t win it?” he wrote. “This year ACORN is under scrutiny in over a fourth of America’s 50 states.”

The posting cited pending cases in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin, so far.

Suspicions include counts of falsifying and forging voter registration carts.

On the RottenAcorn website, numerous previous cases involving ACORN are cited from elections ranging back to 1998. In 2004 in Colorado, for example, an ACORN employee admitted forging signatures and registering three of her friends to vote 40 times.

In Florida’s Orange County, elections officials rejected Mickey Mouse’s application, which had been stamped with the ACORN logo.

“This is part of a widespread and systemic effort … to undermine the election process,” said Sean Cairncross, chief counsel for the Republican National Committee.

The dispute has grown to the point that ACORN is addressing it on its own website.

“[ACORN] success in bringing people into the democratic process ha[s] been greeted with unfounded accusations to disparage our work,” the organization said. In fact, it said, ACORN is the victim, because of those employees who would violate rules while on the organization’s payroll.

“When a department store calls the police to report a shoplifting employee, no one says the department store is guilty of consumer fraud. But for some reason, when ACORN turns voter registration workers over to the authorities for filling out bogus forms, it gets accused of ‘voter fraud.’ This is a classic case of blaming the victim; indeed, these charges are outrageous, libelous, and often politically motivated,” the group said.

WND previously has reported how Obama’s own website was misleading the public regarding the presidential candidate’s ties to ACORN.


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