Secretary of State Ross Miller Says ACORN's Guilty Plea Reinforces Message that Illegal Voter Registration Activity Won't be Tolerated in Nevada
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pam duPré
(Carson City, NV; April 7, 2011) – Secretary of State Ross Miller says ACORN’s guilty plea to a felony count of illegal voter registration activity closes the book on a case that sends a strong message to individuals and organizations who participate in voter registration activities. “I simply will not tolerate attempts by any one or any organization to violate the integrity of our voter registration process,” Secretary Miller said in response to the plea. “Nevada statutes are clear. You can not pay someone to register voters based on how many individuals they register or forms they submit. Managers and staff at ACORN knowingly violated the law and I hope this guilty plea continues to resonate as we enter another Presidential election cycle.”
As a result of an investigation launched by the Secretary of State’s office, it was learned that 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 and criminal prosecution are reminders that the safeguards in our system designed to prevent voter registration fraud work,” Secretary Miller said. “My number one priority is to maintain the integrity of our electoral process and the confidence people have that their vote will count.”
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.