ACORN registers lots of lower income and/or minority voters. They operate all across the country and do a lot of things beside voter registration. What's key to understand is their method. By and large they do not rely on volunteers to register voters. They hire people -- often people with low incomes or even the unemployed. This has the dual effect of not only registering people but also providing some work and income for people who are out of work. But because a lot of these people are doing it for the money, inevitably, a few of them cut corners or even cheat. So someone will end up filling out cards for nonexistent names and some of those slip through ACORN's own efforts to catch errors. (It's important to note that in many of the recent ACORN cases that have gotten the most attention it's ACORN itself that has turned the people in who did the fake registrations.) These reports start buzzing through the right-wing media every two years and every time the anecdotal reports of 'thousands' of fraudulent registrations turns out, on closer inspection, to be either totally bogus themselves or wildly exaggerated. So thousands of phony registrations ends up being, like, twelve.
I've always had questions about whether this is a good way to do voter registration. And Democratic campaigns usually keep their distance. But here's the key. This is fraud against ACORN. They end up paying people for registering more people then they actually signed up. If you register me three times to vote, the registrar will see two new registrations of an already registered person and the ones won't count. If I successfully register Mickey Mouse to vote, on election day, Mickey Mouse will still be a cartoon character who cannot go to the local voting station and vote. Logically speaking there's very little way a few phony names on the voting rolls could be used to commit actual vote fraud. And much more importantly, numerous studies and investigations have shown no evidence of anything more than a handful of isolated cases of actual instances of vote fraud.
The owner of a voter-registration company pleaded guilty Tuesday to voter-registration fraud, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Laguna Beach resident Mark Jacoby, who collects signatures for petition drives, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to three years' probation and 30 days of service with the California Department of Transportation.
Jacoby, owner of Young Political Majors, registered to vote at Los Angeles addresses that were not his own. State law requires petition circulators to be qualified voters. Jacoby will also be required to show proof he is registered at his correct address.
Brad Friedman has more:
UPDATE: I hadn't noted it originally (though it's available in a number of the links in the story above), but though Jacoby pleaded guilty to the most benign offense, in fact, his company is alleged to have changed thousands of registrations from Democratic to Republican, assuring that those voters would not be able to vote, as expected, in the Democratic primary. When they didn't outright fake voter signatures on change of registration forms, they used tricks to get voters to give their signature, fooling them into thinking they were signing a petition against child molesters or for cancer hospital funding.
...[A]llow me to underscore again that this was the head of the firm, which is also under investigation in three other states for similar activity. That all, of course, is a very different situation from ACORN where it was a handful of workers who were accused of registration fraud, and defrauding ACORN themselves, before being turned into official by ACORN themselves!...In the meantime, while voters were unable to cast votes at all thanks to Jacoby and YPM, there is not a single allegation of any actual voter fraud having been committed by, or at the behest of ACORN. They are, however, guilty of registering thousands upon thousands of low to middle income voters, who tend to vote Democratic, and thus, they continue to be the target of phony, baseless attacks from the desperate rightwing.