Brad Friedman: The Republican voter fraud hoax | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk Barack Obama and the Democrats are stealing the election. Massive voter fraud is being carried out, even as we speak, by their henchmen, known by the innocuous sounding Association for Community Organisations for Reform Now, or Acorn. Clever bastards. The only problem? Despite the screaming wall-to-wall coverage of "Democratic voter fraud in 11 swing states" as seen on Fox News and even the once-respectable CNN, none of it's true. None of it. In just the last week, we've had a phoney stunt raid in swing state Nevada (where Acorn had been cooperating with officials for months, concerning problem canvassers they'd long ago fired); a Republican election official in swing state Missouri tell Fox News that she's being beseiged with fraudulent registration forms from Acorn (in a county where they've not done any registration work since August); a Republican sheriff in swing state Ohio, who, the very next day, suddenly requested the names and addresses of hundreds of early voters (with evidence of exactly zero wrong doing, but lots of Democratic-leaning college student in the particular county, and John McCain's state campaign chair as a partner in the investigation); and a screaming front page headline in Rupert Murdoch's New York Post about a guy who claims he was somehow tricked by Acorn into registering 72 times (but read the article closely to note he says he registered at the same address each time, which, even if true, would allow him - you guessed it - precisely one legal vote.) It's an old Republican scam, but it's never been carried out with more zeal than this year. The Republicans have been putting so much time, money and resources into the propaganda leading up to this over the last four years, we should have expected no less. As luck would have it, the Democrats have a man who, as an attorney years ago, actually had the temerity to join the US department of justice in representing Acorn in a successful lawsuit, forcing the state of Illinois to follow the law by allowing citizens to register to vote at the department of motor vehicles. What a scoundrel. That, of course, was before the department of justice, under George Bush's corrupt command, would itself become politicised by the very Republicans so desperate to keep low-income voters from voting, that they were willing to fire their own US attorneys for failing to bring phoney charges of voter fraud in key swing states like Nevada and Missouri. So what are the crimes that have caused all the Sturm und Drang on US television and talk radio, and in several otherwise respectable newspapers and even by the McCain campaign itself? The only actual crime here is that Acorn managed to register some 1.3m low-income (read: Democratic-leaning) voters over the past two years. The rest is, pretty much, just made up. But in the bloody and desperate trenches of the Republican war on democracy, that's more than enough to kick in a last minute surge of lies that may - with the help of a compliant and lazy corporate US media - wreak enough havoc, scare enough voters, confuse enough people and plant enough seeds to call an Obama victory into doubt on November 4. If you can't win it, steal it. If you can't steal it, claim the other guy stole it. If you can't claim the other guy stole it (yet), say they're about to and then kick up smoke that maybe someone will believe you. (Heckuva job, CNN.) Here are the facts. Acorn verifies the legitimacy of every registration its canvassers collect. If they can't authenticate the registration, or it's incomplete or questionable in other ways, they flag that form as problematic ("fraudulent", "incomplete", et cetera). They then hand in all registration forms, even the problematic ones, to elections officials, as they are required to do by law. In almost every case where you've heard about fraud by Acorn, it's because Acorn itself notified officials about the fraud that's been perpetrated on them by rogue canvassers. Most officials who run to the media screaming "Acorn is committing fraud" know all of the above but don't bother to share those facts with the media they've run to. None of this is about voter fraud. None of it. Where any fraud has occurred, it's voter registration fraud and has resulted in exactly zero fraudulent votes. You'll hear that Donald Duck, Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy, Mickey Mouse and (new this year) the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys football team have all had fraudulent registrations submitted in their names. That's true. And we know this, why? Because Acorn told officials about it when they followed the law and turned in those registrations, flagged as fraudulent. What you won't hear is that federal law requires anybody who does not register to vote in person at the county office to show an ID when they go to vote the first time. So, unless Donald Duck shows up with his ID, he won't be voting this November. You needn't worry, no matter how much even John McCain himself cynically and dishonourably tries to mislead you. If it quacks like a duck, in this case, it's likely another Republican Acorn voter fraud lie. They haul it out every two years. Just days before the 2004 presidential election, rightwing whack job Michelle Malkin claimed that Acorn was registering terrorists to vote in swing state Ohio. Problem was, that was a lie. In 2006, again just days before the election, the new US attorney in swing state Missouri (recently appointed, since the one before him refused to bring such charges), filed voter fraud indictments against Acorn workers in the state. Problem was, bringing election-related indictments that close to an election was a violation of the department of justice's own written policy. And Acorn had nothing to do with it, other than turning in the employees to officials. Getting the picture? It's a hoax. All of it. But it's been an effective one, as it's served to distract from very real concerns about tens of thousands of voters who have been illegally purged from the voting rolls in dozens of states, as the New York Times reported in a remarkable front page investigative story. That story followed a report the week before from CBS News detailing still more wholesale purges of voting rolls in some 20 states. That will be the November surprise, when thousands, if not millions show up to vote only to find they are no longer welcome to do so and are forced to vote on a "provisional ballot" which may or may not be counted. These real concerns of election fraud, such as voting roll purges, electronic voting machines that don't work and so much more that actually matters, have been obscured by the smoke and mirrors and sleight of hand of the Republican party's phoney Acorn voter fraud charade. And where they can, they'll parlay it all into new photo ID restrictions at the polls (knowing full well that some 20m, largely Democratic-leaning voters don't own the type of ID they'd need to jump over that next Republican hurdle.) Yet, with all of the unsubstantiated, wholly bogus claims of voter fraud being carried out by Democrats, there remains at least one case of absolutely ironclad, documented, yet still-unprosecuted case of voter fraud that, for some reason, Republicans don't much like to talk about. We can only wonder why.