One would think ACORN was the acronym for some subversive Commie organization, given recent attacks on it by the Republican Party and John McCain's presidential campaign. What's the national community organization's crime? It registers people to vote.
The devil, you say! We can't have too many people voting in a democracy! Especially too many of the wrong people. And the wrong people, it seems, are the many folks who live in the 110 cities, including Philadelphia, where you can find chapters of ACORN, which stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
What reforms does ACORN want? Since 1970, the nonprofit has agitated for social justice, trying to enact living-wage laws, attacking predatory lending - a focus of ACORN in this city - pushing for affordable housing, and registering voters.
It's that last thing that has the Republicans upset. They allege that "widespread" instances of fake registrations are the result of a national campaign by ACORN to steal the 2008 presidential election for Democrat Barack Obama. As evidence, they note that Obama represented ACORN as an attorney 13 years ago. It doesn't matter to them that the U.S. Justice Department was on ACORN's side in that case, too.
There have been problems with a fraction of the 1.3 million mostly low-income voters that ACORN has registered this year - 140,000 in Pennsylvania. But in many cases, it was ACORN that alerted local election officials to faulty signatures.
Indeed, the arrest this week of a Chester man for allegedly forging voter-registration forms came after ACORN notified Delaware County officials. There was no conspiracy, just a guy who wanted to get paid for registering voters without actually doing the work. But the Republicans have filed suit in several states, including Pennsylvania, claiming that ACORN has "perverted" the electoral process and that a voter-fraud "epidemic" needs "antibiotics."