State GOP cautions against registering to vote through ACORN

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By Carol A. Clark

ACORN, a voter registration group that has operated in New Mexico and other states during the last several election cycles, is being flagged by the state GOP.

On Friday, the Las Cruces office of the purportedly non-partisan ACORN was broken into and 90 completed voter registration forms were stolen.

The forms had voters’ social security numbers and dates of birth on them, according to a news release by New Mexico GOP Executive Director Adam Feldman.

In May, ahead of New Mexico’s June primary election, the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office received a number of complaints about ACORN workers falsely telling individuals that they needed to re-register to vote in order to take part in the primary election.

The clerk’s office issued a statement that deterred Doña Ana County residents from registering with ACORN, Feldman stated in his release.

“At this point, we are also asking New Mexicans to be cautious about registering to vote with ACORN employees,” he said. “Voters who would like to register to vote would be better served by contacting their county or state Republican or Democratic parties, or their county clerk.

“Registering to vote with a group like ACORN, that has such a controversial track record of illegal registration activity, is simply not a form of registration in which New Mexico voters can have confidence.”

Los Alamos County Election Manager Gloria Maestas said this morning that she is not aware of ACORN registering voters in the county.

“That doesn’t mean they aren’t here,” she said. “By law, third-party entities must register with the secretary of state. The secretary of state issued a rule that they could also register with local county clerk’s offices.”

Maestas suggests that people register to vote with the County Clerk’s Office to be safe. Forms are also available at the libraries and at the Motor Vehicle Department and can be mailed or dropped off at the clerk’s office.

Feldman cited two 2004 newspaper articles in which an ACORN employee, Christina Gonzales, registered a 13-year-old and 15-year-old boy to vote in Albuquerque, and the leader of ACORN in New Mexico, Matthew Henderson invoked the Fifth Amendment, on his lawyer’s advice, when asked about the group’s handling of voter registration forms in a court case prior to election day that year.

Completed and fraudulent forms also were found in an Albuquerque home during a police drug bust at the home of a foreign national who worked for ACORN, he said.

Referencing another article, Feldman recounted that Ingrid Bober, an Albuquerque Republican, registered to vote with an ACORN employee that same year, joking about her party affiliation when she handed the employee her completed form.

Feldman explained that when Bober tried to vote early prior to election day, her name was not found on the voter list and no form had been turned in for her.

“Examples such as these are prevalent not only in New Mexico, but throughout the nation,” he said. “ACORN is also supposed to be a non-partisan, tax-exempt organization, although the House Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities cited evidence of misappropriation of funds by ACORN Housing Corp. in 1997, for engaging in partisan political activity.”

In 2006, a former ACORN worker in Missouri said that he was fired because, in addition to registering voters, he would not door-knock for Democratic senatorial candidate Claire McCaskill and tell people to support her candidacy, Feldman said, citing www.pubdef.net (Oct. 4, 2006).

Felony criminal charges were filed last year against seven employees and supervisors of ACORN in the state of Washington, of whom three pleaded guilty to fraudulently filling out 1,800 voter registration forms in 2006; this is in addition to a settlement in the state that says ACORN may be held criminally responsible if additional voter registration fraud occurs, Feldman said, citing articles in The Seattle Times.

For a list of county clerks’ offices, access www.sos.state.nm.us/sos-CClerk.html. The New Mexico GOP Web site is at www.gopnm.org and the New Mexico Democrats Web site can be found at www.nmdemocrats.net.