a) PRESS RELEASE from Nevada Secretary of State

DATE: October 7, 2008
CONTACT: Bob Walsh


(Las Vegas, NV; October 7, 2008) -- Investigators from the office of Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, assisted by investigators from the office of the Attorney General, served a search warrant today on the Las Vegas office of the Association for Community Reform Now (ACORN) as a result of an ongoing investigation into allegations of voter registration fraud. The warrant authorized the seizure of documents and records, including computer equipment, pertaining to ACORN’s “Project Vote” voter registration drive, and is the result of an ongoing investigation into suspected voter registration fraud.   In the raid agents seized eight computer hard drives and approximately 20 boxes of documents.  No one was in the ACORN office at the time of the raid, and no one was arrested.

            “This is part of an ongoing investigation by the multijurisdictional task force that we announced this past July,” said Miller.  “We said then that we would work aggressively to protect the process.  We’re going to do everything possible to ensure that Nevada’s voter rolls are protected and to ensure that only those who are eligible can cast a ballot.  The task forced received information which the investigators further developed.  There are allegations that a number of registration applications were completed with false information, and other applications on which attempted to register the same person multiple times.  We’ve been told that some of the allegedly erroneous applications even included the names of players from the Dallas Cowboys football team.

            “Now we begin the task of sifting through the material that was seized to determine how widespread any fraud might be.  We’re giving this the highest priority with the election looming, but until we’ve had time to thoroughly analyze the material, it would be inappropriate and speculative to suggest how widespread it may be.”

            The office of the Secretary of State has provided 2,000 voter registration applications to ACORN for use anywhere in the State of Nevada.  The Clark County Registrar’s office has provided 122,600 registration applications to ACORN, all of which may be used only for registration within Clark County.
October 08, 2008

ACORN Statement Regarding Las Vegas Voter Registration

Over the past year, ACORN has worked hard to help over 80,000 people in Clark County register to vote.

Hundreds of canvassers and volunteers have worked for months talking to citizens from Nevada’s most disenfranchised communities and encouraging them to exercise their right to participate in our democracy. Their work has been tireless—they deserve a great deal of credit for spending days in the hot sun at public places from parks to community centers to shopping centers helping citizens complete voter registration applications. Most of the 80,000 registrations they have collected and turned in to election officials come from young people, low income people and minorities—the very people whose voices are too often left out of our electorate.

As part of our nonpartisan voter registration program, ACORN staff reviews every single application submitted by our canvassers. Special, dedicated staff makes up to three phone calls attempting to reach the voter listed on EVERY SINGLE CARD before they are turned in to verify the information. Our callers verify the information on the cards before turning them in to election officials to make sure that as many new voters as possible get on the rolls and to make sure that all of our voter registration workers are doing the high quality work they are trained to do.

While the vast majority of our voter registration canvassers do a great job, there have been several times over the past ten months that our Las Vegas Quality Control program has identified a canvasser who appears to have knowingly submitted a fake or duplicate application in order to pad his or her hours.

Anytime ACORN quality control staff has identified a suspicious application, we have separated that application out and flagged it for election officials. We turn any suspicious applications to election officials separately, along with a cover sheet identifying the nature of the problem and an offer to provide election officials with the information they would need to pursue an investigation or prosecution of the individual. (Note that civic organizations are required by law to turn over ANY signed voter registration applications even when they are known to have problems). We immediately dismiss any employees we suspect of submitting fraudulent registrations.

It was surprising that law enforcement officials appeared suddenly at our Las Vegas offices Tuesday, because ACORN and its attorneys have already been proactive in providing information about problematic cards and any employee suspected of misconduct. In July, ACORN staff and our attorney set up a meeting with Clark County elections officials and a representative of the Secretary of State’s office to urge them to take action on information ACORN had provided. Since then, and as recently as September 29^th , ACORN has provided officials with copies and—in some cases—second copies of many of the personnel records and the "problem card packages" and cover sheets with which we originally identified the problem cards.

ACORN is a community organization dedicated to making everyone’s voice count in the vital public policy debates in our country. Helping citizens become active voters is a crucial part of our work to help build a fairer and more inclusive democracy. We will continue with this important work by encouraging every eligible voter to the polls this November.

c) PRESS RELEASE from Nevada Secretary of State

DATE: May 4, 2009
CONTACT: Edie Cartwright
                     Bob Walsh


(Las Vegas, NV; May 4, 2009) - Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller today announced the filing of criminal charges against the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now Inc. (ACORN) and two of its employees for compensating their employees to register voters based upon a corporate mandated quote system.

The complaint includes 26 counts of Compensation for Registration of Voters, a Category E felony in violation of NRS 293.805 and 13 counts of Principle to the Crime of Compensation for Registration of Voters, also a Category E felony, in violation of NRS 293.805 and NRS 195.020.

“By structuring employment and compensation around a quota system, ACORN facilitated voter registration fraud in this state,” said Attorney General Masto. “Nevada will not tolerate violations of the law by individuals nor will it allow corporations to hide behind or place blame on their employees when its training manuals clearly detail, condone and, indeed, require, illegal acts in performing the job for the corporation.”

“It’s important to keep in mind that this was a case of registration fraud, not voter fraud,” said Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller. “The investigation and subsequent charges that have now been filed demonstrate the effectiveness of the safeguards in our system designed to prevent voter fraud. I’ve been clear from the outset of my administration that we would be aggressive in our pursuit and prosecution of any fraudulent activity that might threaten the integrity of our electoral process. This investigation is the direct result of our aggressive response to those safeguards.”

Throughout 2008, ACORN employed canvassers to register people to vote in Nevada. ACORN paid the canvassers a rate of between $8.00 and $9.00 per hour, but made continued employment, and therefore continued compensation, contingent upon the canvasser registering 20 voters per shift. Canvassers who failed to obtain 20 voter registration forms per shift were terminated. This policy was clearly outlined in the training materials the organization used to train new employees and confirmed by former employees of ACORN.

From July 27, 2008 through October 2, 2008, ACORN also provided additional compensation, in the form of a bonus program called “Blackjack” or “21+” that was based upon the total number of voters a person registered. Specifically, a canvasser who brought in 21 or more completed voter registration forms per shift would be paid a bonus of $5.00.

The Blackjack bonus program was created by employee Christopher Edwards, the Field Director for the Las Vegas office. ACORN timesheets indicate that corporate officers of ACORN were aware of the “Blackjack” bonus program and failed to take immediate action to terminate it. Amy Busefink was ACORN’s Deputy Regional Director who was aware of the “Blackjack” program and aided and abetted the scheme by approving Edwards’ bonus program.

The investigation into the scheme stemmed from a complaint filed with the Secretary of State’s office by Clark County Registrar of Voters, Harvard “Larry” Lomax. Lomax’ office had received a significant number of Voter Registration Application (VRA) forms that appeared to be fraudulent. These forms were identified by serial numbers on the applications as those issued to ACORN for the purpose of registering new voters.

Criminal charges were filed in Justice Court, Las Vegas Township, Clark County, Nevada.

d) NEWS from ACORN

To: Friends of ACORN
From: Steven Kest, Executive Director
Re: News from Nevada
Date: May 4, 2009

Politicians in Nevada are at it again. Seven months after executing a carefully staged raid on the Las Vegas ACORN office - a publicity stunt purporting to gather evidence of “voter fraud” in ACORN’s 2008 voter registration drive - Nevada’s attorney general and secretary of state today announced that they were filing a
complaint against ACORN and two voter registration managers. Specifically, the complaint alleges that ACORN implemented a “corporate mandated quota system,” and that bonuses were paid for exceeding this quota, in violation of a Nevada statute that prohibits payment based on the total number of registrations.

What the attorney general and secretary of state did NOT announce were any indictments against any of the 44 individual canvassers ACORN identified, as early as April 2008, as having submitted fraudulent applications to their supervisors. If Nevada officials were truly interested in protecting the integrity of the registration process they would cooperate with ACORN in seeking prosecution against these individuals. Instead, after seven months, the state of Nevada has chosen to divert attention from their failure and attempt to justify their attacks against ACORN with this ridiculous complaint.

If you were to work at a Bennigans making steaks and burgers, you would need to in fact make food to retain your employment. Even university professors must “publish or perish.” ACORN, like any business or professional organization, establishes standards for performance and a reasonable basis for evaluating its employees. For canvassers, who are paid by the hour to assist members of the public in completing voter registration applications, these expectations are based on the only measurement that makes sense: the number of complete and accurate voter registration applications a canvasser collects per shift. Based on years of experience conducting community-based voter registration drives, ACORN has established 20 applications per four-hour shift as a reasonable performance standard.

Performance standards do not represent a “quota,” or payment per registration, but simply a baseline for job performance. And, as the complaint itself makes clear, failing to meet this standard does not result in automatic termination. ACORN supervisors are trained to evaluate canvassers on a case-by-case basis, and are given wide latitude in determining the appropriate course of action for under-performing canvassers, ranging from retraining or reassignment to disciplinary action or dismissal.

Moreover, the statute invoked in the complaint does not even address such job performance standards, nor does it address the situation in the Nevada office, in which unauthorized but moderate bonuses (in the amount of five-dollars per shift) were awarded in September to canvassers who exceeded expectations. In fact, the poorly written statute merely states that it is illegal to pay anyone to register voters based on the total number of voters registered. ACORN canvassers are paid and evaluated by the hour. The absurd legal interpretation under which the complaint has been brought suggests that it is illegal for a voter registration drive to set ANY job performance standards for hourly employees, or to evaluate employees and hold them accountable. In effect, their interpretation of the law would make conducting a paid voter registration drive impossible.

Few states need active and effective voter registration drives more than Nevada, which rates 50th out of 51 states (including the District of Columbia) in voter registration rates. Over 900,000 of 1.6 million eligible Nevadans remain unregistered, including 106,000 of the state’s 199,000 eligible low-income residents. ACORN’s registration drive, by election officials’ own conservative estimate, resulted in over 23,000 new Nevada voters casting a ballot in the 2008 election.

There will surely be a fierce hue and cry in the media over these charges; for that is, after all, largely the point. We look forward to the opportunity to beat back these false claims. Meanwhile, ACORN members will continue to fight for quality affordable healthcare, for living wage jobs, and to stop home foreclosures. And yes, we will continue to fight for the government to do its job and provide a means for universal voter registration for every citizen.