Let's see. ACORN has been submitting thousands of fraudulent voter registrations and is being investigated by the FBI. However, if you are John McCain you should just keep your mouth shut and not complain about it. That is the absurd assertion of an editorial in today's Los Angeles Times (emphasis mine):
John McCain committed a malicious misrepresentation in the last presidential debate when he claimed that ACORN, the liberal activist group, "is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."
As ACORN acknowledges, it has collected voter registration forms with bogus signatures. But even when they aren't winnowed out by election officials, transparently invalid registrations don't lead to fraudulent voting. Even the most lax poll worker wouldn't allow "Mickey Mouse" or "John Q. Public" to cast a ballot.
Except that while the poll workers are overwhelmed, such as in Ohio, checking out the many fraudulent registrations submitted by ACORN, many phony voters are able to slip through the system. However, to point out the obvious fraud being perpetrated by ACORN on a large scale, according to the Times, is to make a "wild claim":
There's a case to be made for cracking down on errors and, yes, fraud in election procedures, and the FBI reportedly is conducting a preliminary investigation of whether ACORN, the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, encouraged its canvassers to falsify signatures. But wild claims like McCain's undermine reform efforts and make it harder to hold ACORN accountable for its real faults, including providing a financial incentive for canvassers to fake signatures.
Why would pointing out the obvious about ACORN make it harder to hold them accountable? The Times does not give an answer. However, the Times does point out the problem of swamping election agencies with phony registrations but if McCain points out the same problem he is committing a "malicious misrepresentation."
Swamping election agencies with obviously phony registrations distracts officials from the serious business of verifying other registrations, as contemplated by the Help America Vote Act approved by Congress in 2002. That law, which figured in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week, requires states to establish a "centralized, interactive, computerized statewide voter registration list" that "shall be coordinated with other agency databases within the state."
The Times concludes by making it appear that "voter suppression" is just as big of a problem as vote fraud:
The debate about election fraud is complicated by the fact that the political parties have different priorities. Democrats emphasize increasing the number of voters, particularly the poor and minorities, and too easily dismiss the possibility of fraud. Republicans claim to be concerned about widespread fraud, but aren't bothered if their alarms discourage Democratic-leaning blocs from voting. What's needed is a commitment by both parties to take both fraud and voter suppression seriously.
It's laughable to think that a voter with a valid registration would be intimidated by some big bad Republican suppressing his vote at the polling station. If his registration is valid, what would he have to fear? Meanwhile registrars around the country are being swamped with phony registrations submitted by ACORN. Oops! Did I just commit a "malicious misrepresentation" of that organization?