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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 02:22 am

Rebuild Springfield High at its current site

Sell the Koke Mill land and invest in the city’s central core


Maybe it was a full moon that prompted the overwrought howls of outrage being directed at ACORN by John McCain and a pack of his right-wing cohorts. Either that or just raw partisan nuttiness.

ACORN is the feisty and effective grass-roots organization that is of, by and for low-income Americans. Its community organizers have had remarkable success over the past three decades in helping low-wage working folks gain a real say in how their families and communities are treated by politicians, bankers, developers and other elites.

In the past few elections, the group's members also have become a formidable force in national politics by going door to door in their neighborhoods encouraging people to get involved in the democratic process. They register them to vote, inform them on issues and candidates, and urge them to turn out on Election Day. ACORN happens to be very good at this exercise in old-fashioned, grunt-level democracy; this year, the group has added 1.3 million new voters to the rolls.

So, unwilling to compete for the votes of these families, McCain has surged down the road of slime politics by trying to demonize the group itself. ACORN, McCain huffed furiously in the last presidential debate, "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."

The massive "fraud" that McCain and Gang are howling so loudly about is hardly massive. Of the 1.3 million new registration cards submitted to election officials across the country, only a relative handful have fictional names, wrong addresses, etc. In Nevada, for example, where ACORN has registered 80,000 new voters, fewer than 300 cards were questionable (0.4 percent), and guess who caught and flagged these suspect registrants for the state election office? Bingo, if you said ACORN staffers. It's not in the group's interest to turn in bad cards, and staffers work diligently to cull them.

John McCain is the one committing voter fraud here. This manufactured flapdoodle over ACORN is a disgraceful political attack on a grass-roots group of citizens doing what democracy requires: getting people involved.

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