County warns of misleading registration activities

Posted 6/11/2008 01:01:00 PM

The Doña Ana County Bureau of Elections has received complaints about misleading voter-registration activities and wants to make sure the public knows the truth about registering.

Elections Supervisor Lynn Ellins said in a news release from the county that the “most disturbing” complaint is from people who say they are being told they must re-register to vote under a new law passed by the state Legislature.

“This is simply not true,” Ellins said. “Any voter who is registered and in good standing has no obligation to re-register.”

County spokesman Jess Williams said many of the complaints are about the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, more commonly known as ACORN. The group has been actively trying to register voters in Doña Ana County in recent months. It has also received national attention in recent years for allegations in other states of voter fraud and shoddy work, which you can read about from CBS News by clicking here and FOX News by clicking here.

Fran Witt, a Las Crucen who is active in the Republican Party, said in an interview that she was approached by an ACORN worker in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Las Cruces days before last week’s primary and told she could still register and vote in the primary. That wasn’t true: The last day to register and be eligible to vote in the primary was May 6.

Witt said she filed a complaint with the county elections bureau.

Bonnie Greathouse, lead organizer for ACORN in New Mexico, said in an interview that complainants are probably naming ACORN only because it’s the most active voter-registration group in New Mexico and its name is familiar. She said the organization has strong checks in place to ensure workers are acting appropriately.

“We are very, very strict in our training,” Greathouse said. “(Employees are) under real strict orders.”

Greathouse said the group checks employees’ activity logs daily and calls some people they have registered to ensure workers are acting appropriately. The group has fired some employees when there was suspicion of misbehaving, she said.

“We don’t even allow suspicions, much less the actual act,” Greathouse said.

The group has about 220,000 members across the nation, according to CBS News. It claims it has registered more than 1.7 million people to vote since 2004.

Ellins said in the news release that, while groups are legally allowed to conduct voter-registration drives, they’re not supervised or trained by the elections bureau and “may or may not be disseminating accurate information.” He said people who want to register to vote should do it at the county’s government center or at one of the political parties’ headquarters because accurate information is available at those locations.

He also encouraged those who are suspicious about an encounter or who have questions to call his office at (575) 647-7428.

Update, 10 p.m.

Matthew Henderson, the head of ACORN in New Mexico, directed me to this article from The American Prospect that he said debunks allegations of voter fraud against his group.

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At 7:29 PM, June 11, 2008, Blogger Newt said...

Interesting, I also encountered an individual outside the main post office and he told me I needed to re-register for the November election. He identified himself as an ACORN member when I asked him who he worked for. When I told him that was incorrect information he said he just reads the script that he is provided. Sounds to me like Bonnie Greathouse is training them well.


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