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Lawyered up

"Lawyered up" Continued...

Issue: "Darfur," Nov. 25, 2006

But Weiser counters that matching the names on new registrations to those in a computer database often fails to account for spelling or punctuation variations, unfairly discriminating against minority groups. "There are like 30 different spellings of Mohammad," she said.

The Brennan Center's expected victory in Washington could trigger a ripple effect in other states and might signal a shift in legal momentum toward undoing new measures motivated largely by the 2000 presidential debacle. Indeed, the Supreme Court ruling in the Arizona voter-ID case left open the possibility of revisiting the issue should the election provide some empirical data of voter disenfranchisement.

ACORN's attempts to repeal voter-ID laws and new registration requirements have faced considerable scrutiny given the organization's past reputation for suspect practices. The Ohio-based group with local chapters across the country was accused of rampant voter-registration fraud during the run-up to the 2004 elections. ACORN employees often dumped thousands of registration forms on the desk of county officials shortly before the election, leaving little time to scrutinize each new voter.

Reports of fraud surfaced from Florida to Ohio to Colorado, among other states. ACORN workers registered such voters as "Mary Poppins," "Dick Tracy," and "Jive Turkey." Agency officials denied organizational involvement, claiming that all irregularities resulted from rogue employees. Jim Fleischmann, director of ACORN's western region, dismissed the seriousness of the allegations, telling reporters, "Just because you register someone 35 times doesn't mean they get to vote 35 times."

Less than a week before this year's midterms, ACORN again faced accusations of foul play when four workers in Kansas City were indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting fraudulent voter-registration forms. In a statement released soon after, the Justice Department noted its ongoing national investigation into such practices.

Teresa James, an attorney for ACORN's legal arm, Project Vote, told WORLD the agency has "instituted a quality-control program to help weed out bad apples very quickly." But the organization continues to oppose government-backed screening, fighting against a law in Ohio that enforces stricter deadlines and quality-control measures on third-party voter-registration groups. With the help of the Brennan Center, ACORN convinced a federal court in Cleveland to block the law in September.

ACORN president Maude Hurd defends such action as part of the group's effort to ensure that all citizens can vote. In her response to a scathing editorial in The Wall Street Journal this month, Hurd denied any "secret partisan motivations." But with considerable funding from labor unions and liberal activist George Soros, and with the exposure of an internal campaign document calling for "the construction of a permanent progressive political infrastructure," ACORN's partisan motivations are no secret.

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