By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Did Acorn help Al Franken win? (II)

It’s been more than 24 hours, and Katherine Kersten has not responded to my e-mail asking how voter-registration fraud in Minnesota could have led to election fraud that helped put U.S. Sen. Al Franken over the top in his race with Norm Coleman.

At this point I have to assume she’s firing blanks.

The heart of her argument, published in the Star Tribune, is that Acorn registered 43,000 new voters in Minnesota last year; that, given Acorn’s track record, some of them must have been fraudulent; and that since Franken won by just 312 votes, only a tiny fraction of those registrations needed to be transformed into votes in order to explain Franken’s victory.

Of course, the alchemists believed that if they could transform just a tiny fraction of the lead they had in their possession into gold, they’d all be rich.

Let’s try to keep in mind what this is about. Acorn hired temporary field workers who, in many cases, were paid by the signature to sign up new voters. That created an obvious incentive for the workers to fill in as many names as possible and thus make more money.

I’m not aware of an allegation being lodged anywhere in the country that an ineligible voter showed up on election day, identified himself by one of those phony names and then cast a ballot. The right has spent months — years — looking for such evidence only to come up with nothing.

And when you understand the nature of the very real fraud that was committed, it’s impossible to see any connection. It’s like tying the health-care debate to the color of Queen Elizabeth’s hair.

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  1. lkcape

    Wrong, Dan. The only thing that you can assume is that she hasn’t answered!

    I could be that she is off T a conference, or on vacation or in the hospital.

    Or it could be that she doesn’t know and doesn’t care who you are.

    Don’t jump to conclusions.


  2. Michael Pahre

    Isn’t ACORN an acronym, not “Acorn”?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Michael: I’m following New York Times style on this. Just because I feel like it. Actually, the Guardian recently changed my ACORNs to Acorns, and I’ve still got that on my mind, too.

  3. Treg

    Interesting – signs off as “O.”

  4. Neil

    Did Acorn help Al Franken win with fradulent voter-registrations?

    as opposed to

    Did Acorn help Al Franken win by registering new voters?

    It is your right (maybe even your responsibility as a journalist) to ask Katherine Kersten for substantiating evidence.

    Give her the weekend and follow up with a friendly phone call. If you have reason to believe she’s avoiding you, I’m sure there are more than a few readers here at Media Nation who would be happy to write letters to the editor asking her to back up her claim.

  5. mike_b1

    “Don’t jump to conclusion.”

    Practice what you preach, boy.

  6. Nial Liszt

    Dan, here and and here.

  7. Rick

    I predict RICO charges against ACORN in the very near future.

  8. lkcape

    What conclusion do you think that I have jumped to, Mr. B-1?

    Dan made a leap that he shouldn’t have, and he knows it.

    But then this is his blog, now, isn’t is?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Dan made a leap that he shouldn’t have, and he knows it.

      Reading my mind again, Ikcape? Wrong as usual.

  9. lkcape

    Your arrogance, Dan, is showing.

    While your question is legitimate, there is no requirement that she answer you.

    Pretend otherwise at your own risk!

  10. mike_b1

    Michael, Acorn is an acronym, and many stylebooks hold that acronyms of proper nouns be initial cap only.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Times style seems to be that if an acronym forms a word, then it’s not all upper-case. I think it’s the same at the Guardian. At the Phoenix we used small caps for acronyms, but that’s pretty hard to do online.

  12. Steve Stein

    Your question wouldn’t be the one I would ask in this case. Mine would be an Occam’s razor-like query: This election was perhaps the most carefully scrutinized contest ever. Both sides spent millions of dollars and over 6 months investigating in an adversarial adjudicated process. How is it that these mythical ACORN votes were never an issue?

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: You’re right — that’s a much more succinct way of putting it. Why would she raise issues that even Coleman didn’t raise? It’s like the folks who claim Saddam had WMD long after Bush himself admitted otherwise.

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