Commentary Magazine


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Doubling Down on Deceit

Next year, the United States will engage in the Constitutionally-mandated census, where all Americans are counted and demographically categorized. The most immediate consequence of the census will be the reapportionment of the House of Representatives; the Constitution requires that Representatives be divided among the several states by population as evenly as possible. A key part of implementing this provision is determining just how many people live in each state.

The Obama administration has already established that it wants to be intimately involved in the census. One of the factors behind Senator Judd Gregg’s withdrawal from the Secretary of Commerce position was his dissatisfaction with the White House’s planned incursion into the Commerce Department’s oversight of the census.

Now we have an even more blatant intrusion into the census process: the Obama administration has decided to allow ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now! — to “help”  recruit the roughly 1.4 million temporary workers needed to count every American.

Gee, ACORN, low-level field workers, and government forms to be filled out by individuals: Why does this have “disaster” written all over it?

Could it be because, during the last couple of election cycles, ACORN’s people have been caught submitting thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms? That ACORN staffers have been tried for and convicted of election tampering? That their latest cause has been invading homes that have been foreclosed and re-sold, and “restoring” them to their prior owners?

ACORN’s results in voter registration have been amazing — if you count only raw numbers. Once those numbers are “corrected,” the results are considerably less impressive. And the expense of those corrections are borne not by ACORN, but by the communities that have to wade through thousands of fraudulent forms. This past presidential election, one community in particular, Lake County, Illinois, received over 5,000 registration forms from ACORN. County officials waded through 2,100 of them without finding a single valid one, and chose to dump them all.

ACORN should not be completely cut off from the government, however. I whole-heartedly support cooperation between the two entitites — starting with a probe by the Justice Department and a RICO investigation.

In the meantime, though, extremely close attention must be paid to how the Obama administration handles the census. It’s rare for politicians to tip their hands this blatantly — especially twice — and we must not ignore the warnings.