Rep. Steve King Is Still Carrying An Acorn In His Pocket, Still Mad About Imaginary Voter Fraud

November 17, 2011 4:16 pm ET — Kate Conway

Last night on the House floor, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) revisited a favorite Republican bogeyman: voter fraud. Meaningfully waving around an acorn, which he claims to carry in his pocket every day, King accused "the people that advocate for, or defend, more open election laws and process" of "enabling voter fraud." But even a nutty gimmick like King's doesn't make his accusations of "a significant amount of election fraud in this country" true.

KING: I discovered a significant amount of election fraud in this country. This is in the year 2000, well before we had— the American public had heard of ACORN. I found, I believe, a significant amount of election fraud. [...]

[T]he people that advocate for or defend more open election laws and process are, whether they realize it or not, enabling election fraud in this country. [...] We have ACORN. ACORN that admitted to more than 400,000 fraudulent voter registrations. More than 400,000 confessed to fraudulent registrations. This is the acorn that I carry in my pocket, Mr. Speaker. I carry it in my pocket every day to remind me what happens to this country if we let organizations like ACORN or advocates that seek to diminish the integrity of the vote take over. If they do that, then they erode the faith in the American people in the election. You can have fraudulent elections but as long as we believe that they're legitimate, we're gonna— American people are going to accept the results, because we do have great faith in this constitutional republic.

King has been carrying around an acorn for years, since isolated voter registration irregularities connected to ACORN during the 2008 presidential election sent the right wing into hysterics over imagined voter fraud. Turns out he's still carrying it, even though the eponymous national organization has more or less dissolved.

Right-wing fears about voter fraud were no more justified in 2008 than they are now. The real problem with American electoral turnout isn't, as King suggests, open election advocates "enabling voter fraud," but rather the fear-driven effort by Republicans to pass laws that make it harder for certain groups of voters to make it to the polls. Coincidentally, the groups most often affected are primarily Democratic voters.

King, who also carries around a copy of the Constitution, has chosen a sadly apt symbol to keep with him (and not just because he is himself a nut). It's a symbol of the GOP's misplaced priorities, and of the time wasted battling imaginary problems and dead-end ideological legislation rather than focusing on Americans' real needs — like jobs.