Questions over local voter registrations

October 10, 2008 4:27:45 PM PDT
In states across the country, investigators are looking into numerous claims of phony voter registrations through ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. We told you earlier this week about ACORN's office in Las Vegas being raided after a month-long investigation. Investigators found the names of the entire starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys on voter registration forms in Las Vegas. Complaints of fraud are being checked out in several states. And there are questions about voter registrations here in Houston, as well.

Thousands of our neighbors are newly registered voters. There were big efforts to get them on the roll.

"We would hope that everyone shares that goal, regardless of party," said Ginny Goldman with ACORN. "To get every single person who's eligible on the rolls and engaged in voting."

ACORN, the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, worked for 18 months to sign up eligible voters.

"We think it's the most patriotic act you can take, going to the polls and voting," said Goldman.

But in some cases, those who signed up shouldn't have. Harris County Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt, a Republican, cites ACORN as one group in particular with whom he's seen and discussed issues.

"We've had meetings with them every two years because this problem comes up again and again," he said.

Of the 30,000 registration cards ACORN turned in, Bettencourt says just more than 20,000 are valid. And just look at some of the places ACORN was finding those voters. A church just next door is the address for around 150 people. More than 250 people claim a homeless outreach center as their home address. Some listed a county mental health facility as their home and one person even wrote down the Harris County Jail at the Sheriff's Office.

"It's all on the honor system, Tom," said Bettencourt. "The entire voter registration system in the country is on the honor system because there is no list of citizens in the United States."

"It's just the last 30 days of the election season when all the sudden the attacks that we expected to come are coming," said Goldman. "So we we've been waiting for this, unfortunately."

ACORN defends its voter registration process and calls the people whose names are on the cards. But the county says that no matter what it or ACORN does, there are people and registration cards that shouldn't be there that fall through the cracks.

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