Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The ACORN Distraction

The attacks on ACORN for alleged voter registration "fraud" are, indeed, "nutty" as Think Progress noted yesterday. Rachel Maddow thoroughly dissected it last night on MSNBC (see video above).

Yesterday, too, Gannett News Service's Ana Radelat ran a fairly well balanced Q-and-A on the artificially manufactured controversy. (It's reprinted in today's dead tree PNJ, but not on-line).

Among other things, Radelat correctly observes that "most states require those conducting voter-registration drives to turn in all forms, even if they know they are fakes." ACORN pays low-income people to register other low-income people, and some of them cheat by signing up "Mickey Mouse" and other phony names.

"The problem plagues many voter registration groups," Radelet reports. "Among those accused of submitting false registrations is one that targets single women called Women’s Voices, Women Vote."

But the real money quote in all of this is based on the all-important distinction between so-called "voter registration fraud" and actual "vote fraud":

Q. Can voter registration fraud affect an election?

A: State voting officials screen out most duplicate registrations and those containing false names or incomplete information.

A 2005 study from the League of Women Voters and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio found that only four of about 9 million votes cast in the state from 2002 to 2004 were fraudulent.

Four out of 9 million votes? Our calculator can't handle that small a fraction but we're pretty sure it's written 4.444 × 10-7 . That's another seven zeros. Each of us has a better chance of winning the Florida lottery.


Joe V. said...

Well, actually, it's another four zeros. But otherwise well noted.

Joe V. said...

Doh, sorry, I was thinking backwards. (4.444x10^7 would be 44,440,000, or four more zeros.) It's actually six more zeros.