ACORN leaders acknowledged Tuesday that there has been voter registration fraud this year, but they said it was not as widespread as the voter suppression and intimidation they say has occurred in previous elections.
"Yes, we know there's been fraud. With a staff of some 13,000 canvassers, there will be some bad apples in the bunch," an ACORN official said at a news conference.
The official explained that state law requires the community organizing group to turn in every application it collects.
"It's up to state elections officials to weed out those that aren't legit," the official said, adding that all applications are marked as good, incomplete or suspect.
Among the suspect applications were ones filled out by "Mickey Mouse" and the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys football team.
ACORN says it has signed up 1.3 million poor and working-class voters this year in a mass registration drive in 18 states. Some of the registration cards have become the focus of fraud investigations in Ohio, Nevada, Connecticut, Missouri and other states.
ACORN is a favorite target of Republican officials complaining about voter registration fraud. John McCain recently launched a Web ad attacking Obama for his ties to the group. But ACORN fought back Tuesday by writing McCain a letter, asking the Republican presidential candidate to help it protect the voting rights of Americans who have lost their homes to foreclosure in several states.
The group also noted in its letter that McCain spoke at a pro-immigration rally in Florida in 2006 that the group co-sponsored.
"While in recent weeks your campaign has stooped to engaging in tactics that do not reflect the John McCain who proudly appeared at the 2006 ACORN event, we hold out hope that the 2008 John McCain will do the right thing and call upon his supporters...to take the necessary steps to protect the public's constitutional right to participate in our nation's democracy," the letter said.
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis replied by noting that McCain is still awaiting a response from Barack Obama's campaign to a request made a month earlier to join a committee designed to help tackle Election Day problems, including voter fraud.
"Given the extensive relationship between Barack Obama and ACORN, our campaign also feels that Sen. Obama has a responsibility to rein in ACORN's efforts and to work aggressively against wide-scale voter fraud," Davis said in a written statement.
"If left uncorrected, these numerous investigations and accusations of voter fraud with ACORN could produce a nightmare scenario on Election Day."
The Obama campaign declined McCain's request last month, saying in a letter that it was a "starkly political maneuver to deflect attention from the reality of suppression strategies pursued by national, state and Republican party committees."
The letter, which was provided to FOX News, went on to charge GOP officials in Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin of voter suppression, such as threatening to use a list of people whose homes have been foreclosed to challenge them at the polls.
"...the confusion, uncertainty, deprivations of rights and interference with efficient election administration created by these tactics, and similar ones that the Republican Party has used in recent election cycles, cannot be effectively addressed by the creation late in the day of 'committee' with gloriously self-serving names," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe wrote in a letter.
"Rather, the best way to address them is for responsible Republican leaders...to speak out, loudly and forcefully, to condemn these tactics, to insist that they be shut down once and for all and then to make sure that they are," Plouffe added.