AG, DA Probing ACORN Voter Registrations

State, local probes follow undercover video stings

California's attorney general and San Diego County's district attorney have launched probes into allegations of voter registration fraud by staffers of ACORN.

Officials are trying to determine whether ACORN's voter registration campaign last year ran afoul of election laws.

The issue comes down to a numbers game. ACORN's critics believe that ACORN "gamed" the system when it came to signing up new voters for the election cycle that made Barack Obama president. Republicans suspect their candidates were put at an unfair disadvantage.

"The game is up for ACORN, I'm almost sure of it," said Tony Krvaric, the chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County.

"They're being defunded all across the country," Kvaric noted in an interview Tuesday. "However, what's important is that these allegations are followed up and prosecuted. Because otherwise, these people just scurry and there'll be another group somewhere else."

The all-Republican San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to support the prosecutors' investigations.

The board's resolution stemmed from a docket item put on the calendar in the wake of nationwide coverage of hidden-camera video stings that caught ACORN workers in five regional offices, including one in San Diego County, allegedly offering inappropriate advice and assistance to undercover filmmakers posing as a pimp and prostitute.

A local ACORN staffer in the the group's National City office was recorded Aug. 18 allegedly suggesting that Tijuana was a preferred border-crossing venue for a dozen underage prostitutes from El Salvador, because "I have a lot of contacts" there.

The ACORN staffer also inquired as to how much the purported prostitute charged customers. He was fired after the video was widely broadcast.

According to Deborah Seiler, of the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, nearly 18 percent of the 26,513 voter registration cards submitted by ACORN workers last year were rejected as invalid or deficient -- with 76 referred to California's secretary of state for investigation of "suspected fraudulent activity".

"We have to look at the 21,000 registrations that still remain and make sure those people actually exist," Krvaric said. "Make sure that they're eligible to vote and that those deemed ineligible are stricken from the voter rolls."

"What was remarkable to us," Seiler said, "was that we just were being pretty much inundated with registrations that were being rejected."

Seiler estimated that ACORN accounted for about 15 percent of all voter registrations in San Diego County last year.

County Supervisor Bill Horn said nearly two-thirds of the new voters registered for California's 2008 general election came from San Diego County.

In a statement responding to the fraud allegations and investigations, David Lagstein, who is the political director of ACORN's local office, said the group "ran a tight quality control program and communicated with election officials throughout" its voter registration campaign.

"If there is to be an audit of ACORN's work," Lagstein's statement continued, "the same questions should be asked about voter registration cards sent in by mail, filled out at government offices or collected by other groups."

Local Democratic Party officials could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, ACORN's national office announced that former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger would head up an "independent inquiry" into the group's "systems and processes."

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