Gov. Matt Blunt sought yesterday to link Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama with accusations of fraudulent voter registration in Missouri and other states by an organization that advocates for poor people.

Blunt, a Republican, called ACORN an organization with a "sordid history" of voter fraud in Missouri.

In a telephone conference call, Blunt recounted a series of problems ACORN had caused with voter registration in the state.

Earlier this year, eight ACORN workers in the St. Louis area pleaded guilty to election fraud in connection with registrations for the 2006 election. This week, ACORN submitted a batch of questionable voter registration cards in Kansas City.

"We have seen serious problems with registration cards submitted by ACORN," Blunt said. "The Obama campaign is not taking this seriously in my state." He also pointed out that as a lawyer, Obama once represented ACORN in a "motor voter" registration lawsuit in Illinois.

Blunt was joined in the conference call by Rick Davis, the campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for Obama’s campaign in Missouri, said Blunt and Republicans were employing a "kitchen sink" strategy for McCain, attempting to throw everything at Obama in an attempt to distract voters from the crucial issue - the state of the economy.

"They don’t want to talk about the economy," Hamilton said. "Instead, they invent scandals and salacious accusations that have no basis in reality."

ACORN stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The organization is a grass roots group that seeks to empower low- and moderate-income people. According to the organization’s Web site, the group has registered more than 1.1 million new voters for this election, including 53,000 in Missouri.

Missouri has become a battleground state in this year’s presidential election, and ACORN-registered voters are likely to vote for Obama. Blunt called the voter registration effort part of a systematic effort across the country to undermine the voting process.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, said yesterday all voter registration cards submitted must undergo a verification process. "This process works," she said. "Voters in Missouri should feel confident that elections are secure and run fairly."

A spokeswoman for Carnahan’s office said the only place where questionable voter registrations were raised was in the Kansas City area. Election authorities there were told to turn over questionable applications to state and federal prosecutors.