I find this story out of California quite disturbing. The Los Angeles Times reports that a Republican contractor has been targeted with serious allegations of engaging in voter registration fraud – a stupid, repugnant, and unethical activity (H/T Volokh Conspiracy):
Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed….
It is a bait-and-switch scheme familiar to election experts. The firm hired by the California Republican Party — a small company called Young Political Majors, or YPM, which operates in several states — has been accused of using the tactic across the country.
Election officials and lawmakers have launched investigations into the activities of YPM workers in Florida and Massachusetts. In Arizona, the firm was recently a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit. Prosecutors in Los Angeles and Ventura counties say they are investigating complaints about the company.
The firm, which a Republican Party spokesman said is paid $7 to $12 for each registration it secures, has denied any wrongdoing and says it has never been charged with a crime.
The 70,000 voters YPM has registered for the Republican Party this year will help combat the public perception that it is struggling amid Democratic gains nationally, give a boost to fundraising efforts and bolster member support for party leaders, political strategists from both parties say.
This story smells bad for some incompetent Republican leaders, but does not rise to the level of the ACORN scandals for four reasons:
1. YPM has yet to cause a formal FBI criminal investigation, like ACORN has.
2. Because of the nature and scale of their respective activities, the potential for any YPM impact on the outcome of the national election is several factors less than that caused by ACORN.
3. YPM is a private, openly partisan organization. ACORN hides behind claims of non-partisanship and has benefited from taxpayer funds while working to promote an ultra-liberal Democratic agenda.
4. YPM has no clear ties to national candidates in the way that ACORN has close ties to Barack Obama.
But I’m sure my liberal friend Matt (aka Curious Stranger) isn’t concerned about YPM’s activities. As he said:
Voter registration fraud is not voter fraud. Thatâ€™s the key point that youâ€™re hoping folks donâ€™t understand. None of those bad registrations will result in votes being cast.
Matt thinks it’s no big deal. I think any activity that threatens the integrity of our elections is a serious problem. It’s just that the YPM story is a somewhat big story. The ACORN story is huge.