The McCain campaign -- by now looking for any dirt they can get their hands on -- has just released a web ad attacking Obama for his ties to Acorn, the progressive community organizing group. The ad tries to link Acorn to the mortgage crisis and accuses it of trying to steal the election by submitting fraudulent voter registrations. On this point, the ad has a Western back story. Acorn's Las Vegas offices were raided last week by state officials who accused the organization of trying to register people who didn't exist or didn't live in Nevada, including some members of the Dallas Cowboys.
But here's where the story gets a little more complex. Acorn actually told state officials about many of the allegedly fraudulent voter registration forms. They were submitted by hired canvassers who had fallen behind on meeting their voter-registration quotas, and apparently got desperate enough to start filling in registration forms themselves. But third-party voter registration drives are required by law to turn in each registration form they receive -- even if that form attempts to register Donald Duck.
Nobody's disputing that some of the registration forms Acorn submitted were fraudulently filled out. What's less clear is whether these fraudulent forms reflect badly on the organization itself, or just on some rogue canvassers. What's abundantly clear is that it would be hard for these fraudulent voter registrations to have any impact on the election. Fraudulent registrations are the easy part of vote fraud. The harder part is having someone go to the polls, claim to be Donald Duck or Terrell Owens, and get shown to a voting booth before some election worker catches on. It seems that the McCain campaign and its talk-show proxies don't think that Nevada's election volunteers are very smart.