The finger pointing is so bad it’s hard to filter out fact from fiction.  And we voters think that we select politicians and presidents solely on the majority of votes cast by legitimate voters.

Wrong.  Picture this:

National Democratic organizations register hundreds of new voters.  Project Vote boasts 1.15 million low- and moderate-income voters in 2004. Other registration drives were held by ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).  Both organizations hire workers to register voters in low-income and minority communities.

The Republicans challenged those lists because they found many of the names belonged to dead people or contained false addresses, signatures and phone numbers.

Some ACORN members were indicted in Kansas as part of a national investigation into the matter.  But President Bush complained to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in 2006 about the “lackluster” prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on voter fraud.  Seven prosecutors were fired months later, eventually leading to accusations of undue pressure by the White House and Gonzales’ resignation.

Although voter fraud is a crime and can cost someone an election, states rarely prosecute these crimes.  And attitudes about them break along partisan lines.

Melonyce McAfee’s piece “The DOJ’s Favorite Crime – What’s the Deal with Voter Fraud” asks “Why is the Bush administration pushing so hard to stop voter fraud?”

McAfee writes that while Republicans want to “ensure that ballots cast by illegal immigrants and other ineligible voters are not counted,” Democrats “promote looser restrictions…to encourage voter participation among traditionally disenfranchised groups.”

So while the Republicans are pushing for voter ID laws, the Democrats are charging them with voter suppression.  While Republicans want clean voter lists, Democrats want their constituents to vote in record numbers.

Washington Democratic Gov-ernor Christine Gregoire issued an executive order “instructing Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide their clients with the opportunity to register to vote.”

This happened after Republi-can Secretary of State Sam Reed accused ACORN of, “the worst case of voter-registration fraud in the history of the state of Washington.”

Republicans then accused Democrats of “mining the welfare vote” and allowing non-citizens to vote.

So when the Republicans tried to clean up the voter registration lists, they were accused of “vote caging” or “electoral fraud,’’ the illegal interference with the process of elections.

In fact, one blog defines vote caging as “an illegal tactic to suppress minorities from voting by having their names purged from voter rolls when they fail to respond to registered mail sent to their homes.”

So Democrat Diane Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, held hearings on vote caging where the speakers accused Republicans of using this strategy in several instances, including in Ohio in 2004 to ensure that Bush won the election.

The Democrats say that purging the rolls by a non-governmental organization (i.e., the RNC) is unnecessary and intimidating.  Project Vote even calls it “the Politics of Voter Fraud.”

The blogs are unreal. One even carries accusations that Republican operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked “Do not forward” to African-American voters’ homes, and when letters returned (“caged”) they used this as evidence to purge them from the rolls, “blocking these voters’ right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses.”

So there it is.  The Republicans accuse the Democrats of using illegal voters and the Democrats accuse the Republicans of intimidating black folk and illegal aliens.

Truly, the fight for power comes down to who controls the voter lists.

John Fund writes in his book, Stealing Elections:  How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy that “many Americans are convinced that politicians can’t be trusted to play by the rules and will either commit fraud or intimidate voters at the slightest opportunity…and the level of suspicion has grown so dramatically that it threatens to undermine our political system.”

Here’s what I know: Many workers who get paid to register people cheat.  I hired 100 of them one year to register black voters on petitions for casino gambling.  When we checked the validity of the names, we found that only 25,000 out of the 60,000 they brought me were real voters.

You do the math.

Barbara Howard is president of Barbara Howard & Associates, a public relations, media and governmental relations firm in North Miami Beach. She is also the Florida State Chair for C.O.R.E. (the Congress of Racial Equality). She can be reached at 305-940-6674 or