The Lesson of Soviet Espionage for ACORN Defenders

Widespread criticism of ACORN’s voter registration tactics have moved The Nation’s Andrew Gumbel to offer this anemic defense: “While ACORN has had well-advertised problems getting its low-wage workforce to produce reliable voter registration lists, those lists have not been shown to result in a single fraudulently cast ballot.”

Gumbel’s defense is reminiscent of the precision of Bill Clinton under oath, given that ACORN’s voter registration tactics are currently the subject of a formal FBI investigation.

History also reminds us that individual criminal convictions are not the only standard by which to measure a criminal conspiracy.

Relatively few Soviet spies were actually convicted of espionage after World War II, even though the United States had broken certain Soviet codes. But as John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr note in their book, Early Cold War Spies, this evidence, dubbed the Venona Project, was never used in court.

Another way ACORN stays out of courtrooms is by exploiting gray areas in America’s election laws.

ACORN’s documented willingness to flood voter registration offices with thousands of new registrations at the last possible moment violates no law but does ensure that some fraudulent registrations will inevitably be missed. A voter whose fraudulent registration has gone undetected has the same status as a legitimate voter on Election Day since both names are on the official voter rolls.

ACORN is hardly the sole source of vote fraud. Consider that federal law required that the DMV must ask any illegal alien who can manage to obtain a driver’s license if he also wishes to register to vote. There have been no reports of anyone refusing a voter registration form on the grounds that he is not an American citizen.

Once the illegal alien arrives at the polls, he can expect to be given a ballot in a language other than English and even some verbal “assistance” in a language other than English. His vote will be counted just like any other vote, even though he never should have been allowed near the polls in the first place.

Making matters worse, the Bush Justice Department announced a new policy on July 2 which forbids anyone from mentioning that only American citizens should vote in American elections. One DOJ official even suggested, according to published reports, that anyone who dares to say so should be hauled before a federal grand jury to explain his ties to “anti-immigrant” groups.

ACORN’s election workers and those who defend them need to understand that a lack of individual criminal convictions does not absolve ACORN on the issue of voter fraud. Instead, this lack of criminal convictions may well be a testament to ACORN’s prowess at subverting the American electoral process.