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Obama Campaign's 'Project Vote' Name Choice Could Fuel Voter Fraud Charges

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President Obama's 2012 campaign on Thursday announced the launch of "Project Vote," an effort "aimed at increasing registration and participation among Democratic base constituencies -- including young voters, seniors, African Americans and Hispanics, plus Native Americans and gay and lesbian voters, Politico's Mike Allen reported.

Problem is, there's already an organization called Project Vote, and it's been tied to one of the right's favorite (now defunct) punching bags, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN). Since a sizable number of Republicans -- 25 percent -- still think ACORN will somehow steal the election for Obama in 2012, an ACORN connection puts a pretty big target on an organization's back.

To wit: just Wednesday, the conservative group Judicial Watch sued for access to communications between Obama's Justice Department and Project Vote.

"I cannot think of a more stupid name for the initiative -- it is going to feed into the right-wing Democratic voter fraud meme," wrote law professor Rick Hasen. "Why on earth would the Obama campaign seek to stoke these conspiracy theories, and cause confusion, by naming its efforts Project Vote?"

For their part, the original Project Vote sees a more immediate problem with the name: they own it. Project Vote spokesman Michael McDunnah told TPM in an email that they "have reason to believe an amicable solution will be reached shortly."

"We're always happy to see candidates take an interest in voter registration," Project Vote Executive Director Michael Slater said in a statement. "However, while we wish them good luck in their registration efforts, Project Vote, Inc. holds the trademark for that name, and has been conducting voter registration activities using that name continuously since 1994." Said Slater:

Project Vote, Inc. is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) that promotes voting in historically underrepresented communities, working to ensure that our constituencies can register, vote, and cast ballots that count. We were incorporated in 1994 as 'Voting for America,' and officially became 'Project Vote/Voting for America' in 1997. We are unrelated to Project VOTE!, for which President Obama worked in 1992.

"We have contacted attorneys representing Obama for America, and we have been assured that this matter will be resolved quickly and amicably," Slater said.

[Ed. note: the spelling of Slater's name has been corrected.]

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