Nevada Raids State ACORN Headquarters

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Nevada authorities seized records Tuesday from a group they accused of submitting fraudulent voter-registration forms - including for the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys.

"Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada, and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4," said Secretary of State Ross Miller, referring to star players on the pro football team.

State authorities raided the headquarters of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group that works to register low-income people.

Miller said the raid was part of a monthslong investigation, and he contended the group had submitted registration forms that used false information or duplicated information on multiple forms. He did not estimate how many.

Bertha Lewis, interim chief organizer for ACORN, said the group has been working with election officials to weed out fraudulent forms from those submitted by the canvassers it hires.

"Today's raid by the secretary of state's office is a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than to discredit our work registering Nevadans," Lewis said.

"For the past 10 months, anytime ACORN has identified a potentially fraudulent application, we turn that application in to election officials separately and offer to provide election officials with the information they would need to pursue an investigation or prosecution of the individual," Lewis said.

She said ACORN had turned in 46 problem applications submitted by 33 former employees to election officials in the Las Vegas area, where it has registered 80,000 people.

According to its national Web site, the group has registered 1.3 million people nationwide for the Nov. 4 election. It has encountered complaints of fraud stemming from registration efforts in Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri.

"The fact is, this is hard work and there were some people that probably sat down on a couch and filled out names out of a phone book," said Matthew Henderson, Southwest regional director for ACORN. "That's really what we're talking about here - not an attempt to steal an election."

Miller said no one had been charged or arrested in Nevada.

His spokesman, Bob Walsh, said investigators were using information from various sources, including the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Nevada.

"You don't have to read too many cop novels to know that sometimes people will tell you a grain of truth to try to hide the rest of the truth," Walsh said. "I'm certainly not suggesting that ACORN is that nefarious, but at the same time just because they handed over 50 to you doesn't mean there aren't 150 others out there."

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