Sun, Oct 19, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Obama, McCain trade fraud barbs

AFP , CHICAGO

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign accused rival John McCain of using a false crusade against voter fraud to suppress legitimate votes in a growing spat over ballots ahead of the Nov. 4 poll.

The Obama campaign’s top lawyer, Bob Bauer, accused Republicans on Friday of recklessly “plotting” to suppress legitimate votes and to “sow confusion and harass voters and complicate the process for millions of Americans.”

An estimated 9 million new voters have registered for the hotly contested presidential election, and the Obama campaign says Democratic registrations are outpacing Republican ones by four to one.

The McCain campaign contends that an untold number of those registration forms are false and warned that illegally cast ballots could alter the results of the election and undermine the public’s faith in democracy.

Republicans have launched a slew of lawsuits aimed at preventing false ballots from being cast, the most high-profile an attempt to challenge as many as 200,000 of the more than 600,000 new registrations submitted in the battleground state of Ohio.

That challenge was blocked by a Supreme Court ruling on Friday.

Republicans point to investigations into whether liberal-leaning community organization ACORN had submitted false voter registrations as proof of “rampant” and widespread fraud which McCain said on Wednesday could be “destroying the fabric of democracy.”

But Bauer told reporters the fact that senior officials from the Justice Department leaked news of an FBI investigation into ACORN a day after McCain lobbed that attack shows that “an unholy alliance of law enforcement and the ugliest form of partisan politics” may have returned.

He said the matter should be turned over to a special prosecutor currently investigating allegations that US attorneys were fired by the Bush administration for failing to bring indictments of voter fraud and public corruption in the leadup to the 2006 election.

The McCain campaign dismissed Bauer’s accusations as an “absurd” attempt to “criminalize political discourse.”

“In case Senator Obama’s lawyer did not notice, we are in the midst of a political campaign, not a coronation, and the alleged criminal activity he calls ‘recent partisan Republican activities’ are what the rest of us call campaign speeches and debates,” spokesman Ben Porritt said in a statement.

Gallup’s latest national tracking poll of registered voters had Obama at 50 percent to 43 percent for McCain. Polls of battleground states by CNN and Time on Wednesday showed Obama up five points among registered voters in Colorado, by eight in Florida, by three in Missouri and by a yawning 10 points in Virginia.

Obama was set to address a rally in St. Louis, Missouri, yesterday afternoon after spending the night at home in Chicago.

McCain had events scheduled in North Carolina and Virginia yesterday, while his running mate, Sarah Palin, was set to fly to New York to appear on the comedy show Saturday Night Live, which has seen its popularity spike with a series of sketches mimicking the Alaska governor.

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