12/04/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

ACORN Smears Setting the Stage for Possible Post-Election Lawsuits

With an historic Election Day coming tomorrow, it is increasingly clear that the McCain-Palin campaign’s ACORN-voter fraud endgame may be to use their relentless attacks as a justification for a wave of legal challenges to close election results in key states. Over the weekend, McCain-Palin campaign manager Rick Davis made the rounds of the Sunday news shows claiming that polls showed McCain “structurally tied” in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Never mind that, as SilentPatriot at Crooks and Liars points out,

“In Nevada, Barack Obama leads in the last eight polls, with a margin between 4 and 12 points.

In Colorado, excluding John Zogby's garbage internet polls, Barack Obama has lead in every single poll taken since the end of September. What's more, the most recent PPP poll has him up a staggering 10 points.

And in New Mexico, Obama leads in every poll since the second week in September. The last four polls average out to a 10.5 [point] Obama lead.”

Campaigns historically make claims of pushing towards victory on the closing weekend before an election, but the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee have been engaged in six weeks of smears and attacks on ACORN’s record-breaking voter registration work, all part of a coordinated effort to cast doubt on the integrity of the election.

As Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights told the New York Times on October 26th: “There is a real concern that the courts will be asked once again to weigh in on tight races where the losing party may seek to raise real questions about the legitimacy of the vote…You can’t help but conclude that this is an effort to lay a foundation for a subsequent challenge to an Obama victory, should it occur.”

Two weeks earlier elections expert Rick Hasen at Loyola Law School said something much the same in the Huffington Post,  “For the last three elections, Republicans have been ramping up cries of voter fraud as a way of undermining the legitimacy of the election results should they not turn out in their favor...”

And just last week, the Washington Independent reported, “Even when the challenges fail, Republican officials persist in their claims of voter fraud in what appears to be an effort to lay the groundwork for challenging the outcome of Election Day.”

But even Ronald Michaelson, member of the McCain-Palin “Honest and Open Election Committee” admitted over the weekend to The Politico,

“‘Do we have a documented instance of voting fraud that resulted from a phony registration form? No, I can’t cite one, chapter and verse,’ he said.… Asked whether his own party was responsible for fostering that perception, Michaelson said, ‘Well, it doesn’t help. It has captured the attention of a lot of people.’ Why do it, then? ‘Maybe it’s because there’s nothing else to talk about,’ he said.’”

So where does that leave us? Adam Serwer, writing in The American Prospect (and also a blogger over at Jack and Jill Politics) notes that these accusations allow “the conservative media machine to cast doubt on the results of the election should Barack Obama win.” In other words, these attacks are a prelude to a concerted effort by conservatives, the GOP, and the McCain-Palin campaign to manufacture an “election integrity” crisis and use that pretense for a possible all-out fight to contest tomorrow’s results.

Progressives must be ready to fight back. This election has brought millions of new voters into the process and energized millions more who have sat out previous opportunities to make their voices heard. The franchise itself is a right secured with the blood freedom fighters from past generations.

Millions of low-income people, people of color, and young people are reshaping the American Electorate. We cannot, indeed, we must not back down from any attempt to undermine the integrity of the election process itself through crises manufactured out of the whole cloth of baseless attacks on voter participation programs targeted towards underrepresented populations groups.

We are on the cusp of history and we owe it to ourselves and the people who came before us to ensure that this election reflects the will of the people.

Election protection resources and information for Election Day can be found in several places, including 1-866-OUR-VOTE, the Election Protection Wiki, and

*A fantastic thing about the Netroots is how great minds think alike. As I was composing this post today, two other folks jumped on this topic: David Neiwert at Crooks and Liars and John Aravosis at AmericaBlog, so I wanted to make sure people saw their posts as well.