In a fanciful flight of hyperbole last night John McCain said “We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with Acorn, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

In today’s New York Times online I found an article that explains what McCain is driving at. Ohio Republicans have obtained a ruling in Federal court, that a list of voter registrations that do not match names listed on government databases. Republicans intend to challenge the right of those people to vote, at the polls in November. As many as 200,000 Ohio voters may be affected. Contrary to the allegation Senator McCain made of massive voter fraud, these mismatches are most often caused by data entry errors by government officials, according to the Times.

Here is a link to the Obama campaign’s Fight The Smears website, in regard to his Obama’s relationship to Acorn. In it, the Obama campaign states:

• Fact: Barack was never an ACORN community organizer.
• Fact: ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee.
• Fact: ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992.

In his capacity as an attorney, Barack represented ACORN in a successful lawsuit alongside the U.S. Department of Justice against the state of Illinois to force state compliance with a federal voting access law. For his work helping enforce the law, called “Motor Voter,” Barack received the IVI-IPO Legal Eagle Award in 1995.

Acorn, which advocates for affordable housing, a living wage, better schools, community investment by local banks, voter participation and other issues which some Republicans may oppose, has had a problem with employees filling out fraudulent voter registrations forms in order to meet quotas set for them by Acorn. In many states all voter registration cards that are filled out must, by law, be turned in to election officials, even if they are obvious frauds. Acorn has a structural problem with their voter registration efforts which needs to be addressed. That does not make them a conspiracy to undermine the democratic process, as some right wing bloggers have trumpeted. Once again the McCain campaign, and their candidate, have tried to blow the issue way out of proportion in order to scare voters.

More serious, however, is the organized effort on the part of the Republicans, to supress the vote. This was highly effective, in the battleground state of Ohio in 2004 and may have cost John Kerry the election. In 2000 voter supression contributed to the confused state of the election result in Florida. Without the voter supression effort it is likely, in my view, that Al Gore would have had a clear victory in Florida, and therefore won the national election.

Look for heavy handed vote supression efforts on the part of the Republicans in every battleground state this fall.