Oct 192008
Authors: Sean Reed

Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign may be linked to a group that was “on the verge of perpetrating the greatest frauds in voter history in this country.” Or at least that’s what Sen. John McCain would have you believe.

Recently, the FBI began an investigation into potential voter fraud by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a liberal organization focused on organizing poor communities. The allegations center around the submission of false and duplicate voter registrations by ACORN volunteers.

Following these allegations, ACORN acknowledged that they had discovered some discrepancies, but said that fraudulent submissions, at best, could only account for a small fraction of the 1.3 million voters registered nationwide by volunteers, according to The New York Times. Leadership from within the organization have also said they are confident that “any legitimate review of ACORN … will determine that the organization has conducted itself properly.”

The recent controversy has led many to question Obama, who once represented ACORN in a lawsuit in 1995 and subsequently presided over training sessions for the group. Recent criticism, however, has stemmed from an Obama campaign expenditure to the organization during Democratic primary season.

Republicans, especially McCain and his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin, have picked up this story as their smear campaign against the increasingly strong Obama ticket.

At nearly every stump stop last week, McCain and Palin called for Obama to reveal the extent of his relationship with the organization, hoping to both keep the scandal on the media radar but also to link Obama to it.

Their campaign manager, Rick Davis, has been helping too. Late last week, he released a statement calling for comment by the Obama campaign on the subject and said that the Democratic tickets’ refusal to comment was casting “a cloud of suspicion” over the election.

Obama, however, has refused to enter the fray, other than to state that “we were not involved” and that the money transferred to ACORN by his campaign was for the use of its volunteers to canvas neighborhoods in support of his campaign, not to register voters, according to CNN.

But, in truth, even if he had, this “controversy” — if you can even call it that — still would not be a real issue.

The fact of the matter is, Obama has, at best, a very loose and very innocent tie to an organization that, among other activities, hires folks to register voters. Unfortunately, some of those people opted to file duplicate and false applications. According to ACORN, many of those people were fired for it.

While it is certainly not a good thing that this took place, the fraudulent registrations — which number in the thousands — appear to represent only the actions of a few overenthusiastic employees, not the national effort McCain would have voters believe.

Regardless of the scope of scandal, McCain’s treatment of the issue is completely unacceptable.

As of today, there have been no charges filed against ACORN, and there is absolutely no evidence linking Obama to any shady activities.

Last time I checked, a prior association with a group involved in a scandal involving current activity does not prove guilt. McCain knows this, too; he just doesn’t care.

These petty attacks aren’t about fighting voter fraud; they’re merely the last ditch effort by a dying campaign to shape the results of the election.

And unfortunately for John McCain, the voters aren’t falling for it.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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