This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published June 10, 2011 on The Washington Times website.
Even with the demise of ACORN, a lot of people are worried about voter fraud in the 2012 presidential election. That’s because the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has not really gone away since two young conservatives posing as a pimp and a prostitute administered a very painful video sting in 2009. ACORN has transmogrified into lots of little ACORN groups with misleadingly innocent names, such as Affordable Housing Centers of America (formerly ACORN Housing Corp.) and New England United for Justice.
Another reason to worry is that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is working overtime to curb laws designed to reduce illegal immigration and to require voters to present identification. Yes, you can’t cash a check or open a bank account without a valid ID, but the ACLU thinks it is somehow “racist” to ensure that only American citizens vote in our elections.
That’s why it filed a suit on June 3 to halt Florida’s law shortening the early voter days from 15 to eight before an election and tightening registration rules. The ACLU contends that requiring people to vote within about a week of the actual Election Day constitutes “voter suppression.”
If you think that’s over the top, listen to plaintiff Arthenia Joyner, a Democratic state senator:
“It is un-American to make it a burden to vote. Too many people fought and died for this right. This is an abomination. And it’s unconscionable.”
It was just a few years ago that people were expected to vote on Election Day and obtain absentee ballots if they couldn’t. Now it’s an “abomination” if they don’t get to vote two weeks ahead of time.
The law Gov. Rick Scott signed is, in part, a reaction to Florida election officials in 2009 finding at least 888 phony voter registrations submitted by ACORN officials, including one claimed to be from the late actor Paul Newman. Arrest warrants were issued for 11 ACORN employees.
Florida is not alone. In 2007, Washington state filed felony charges against several ACORN employees and supervisors, alleging more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations, Fox News reported. In March 2008, a Pennsylvania ACORN employee was sentenced for submitting 29 fake voter registrations. In 2009, a Cleveland ACORN employee was caught re-registering the same person 77 times.
Voter fraud investigations targeting ACORN were launched in 12 states: Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and New York. In September 2009, Congress voted to defund ACORN, three-quarters of whose 2009 budget of $24 million was composed of federal money, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, on the immigration front, the ACLU and other groups are challenging Arizona-type laws in Utah, Indiana, Alabama and Georgia.
In Alabama on June 2, both houses of the State Legislature passed a law that would require employers to check the legal status of new employees using the E-Verify system. Republican Gov. Robert J. Bentley signed the bill on Thursday.
The Alabama law also would allow police officers to detain motorists if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the motorists are here illegally. The ACLU said it will file a lawsuit challenging what it called an “extreme” and “draconian racial profiling law.”
On Wednesday, the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center requested an injunction to stop an immigration law in Georgia pending the outcome of a lawsuit they had filed the week before. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal signed the law in May, noting that it differs from the Arizona law that a U.S. district judge struck down in July 2010. The Obama administration had requested an injunction against Arizona’s law, portions of which – including use of the E-Verify system – were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 26.
The Georgia law, set to take effect July 1, already has caused some illegal immigrants to head back home, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The law says police can investigate the immigration status of suspects and take illegal immigrants into custody. It also makes it illegal to traffic in or transport illegal immigrants while committing another crime or to use fraudulent IDs when applying for a job.
In Indiana, an immigration reform law signed on May 10 by Gov. Mitch Daniels will take effect July 1. On May 25, the ACLU filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction.
The law, as summarized by WIBC radio in Indianapolis, “threatens the state tax credits of employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, revokes state contracts with those companies, and denies unemployment benefits to illegal immigrants. It also ramps up penalties for crimes associated with illegal immigration, including fake IDs and the smuggling or harboring of illegals.”
In September 2009, after the ACORN scandal broke, President Obama was asked about it during an interview for a Sunday news show. Mr. Obama replied, “Frankly, it’s not something I’ve followed closely.” That’s odd, given that Mr. Obama had an extensive association with ACORN. The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund noted that Mr. Obama’s ACORN-related activities included running a voter-registration drive for Project Vote in 1991, training ACORN volunteers and representing ACORN in a 1995 case that forced Illinois to adopt the federal Motor Voter Law.
ACORN, which specialized in compiling voter registrations among minority groups – a good thing in itself but not when it’s done with rampant fraud – is still out there in different guises. Meanwhile, the ACLU is trying to take down state laws that would discourage illegal immigration and the use of false identification. If the ACLU prevails, it could unleash a tsunami of illegal aliens joining the voter rolls, which would benefit one political party in particular.
Given that the Obama administration is ignoring “sanctuary cities” that flout federal immigration laws and instead is going after states like Arizona that want to enforce the law, you have to wonder how seriously it takes voter fraud.
If the question is qui bono? – to whose benefit? – the answer is pretty obvious.