Michigan Republicans using foreclosure lists to try and suppress voters.

The Republican party always seems to find new lows to stoop to when election time rolls around. It’s not enough that they’re spreading bald-faced lies in their campaign ads, but they’re also going to whip out their dirty tricks book to see what they can do to keep as many people from voting as possible. For whatever reason, Republicans tend to do better when voter turn out is low so that’s one motivation for suppressing the vote. It doesn’t hurt, though, when you figure out a way to suppress mainly people who belong to the other party. Here in Michigan the Republicans plan to challenge anyone who’s had a home foreclosure notice:

“We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed.

[…] The Michigan Republicans’ planned use of foreclosure lists is apparently an attempt to challenge ineligible voters as not being “true residents.”

One expert questioned the legality of the tactic.

“You can’t challenge people without a factual basis for doing so,” said J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department who now runs the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington D.C.-based public-interest law firm. “I don’t think a foreclosure notice is sufficient basis for a challenge, because people often remain in their homes after foreclosure begins and sometimes are able to negotiate and refinance.”

As for the practice of challenging the right to vote of foreclosed property owners, Hebert called it, “mean-spirited.”

To say the least. Why would this be beneficial to the Republicans? According to the Michigan Messenger article there’s two factors: 1) Michigan has been hard hit by foreclosures and 2) a good percentage of the people who got sub-prime loans were African American and they generally tend to be Democrats:

The Macomb County party’s plans to challenge voters who have defaulted on their house payments is likely to disproportionately affect African-Americans who are overwhelmingly Democratic voters. More than 60 percent of all sub-prime loans — the most likely kind of loan to go into default — were made to African-Americans in Michigan, according to a report issued last year by the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Growth.

[…] Challenging all voters registered to foreclosed homes could disrupt some polling places, especially in the Detroit metropolitan area. According to the real estate Web site RealtyTrac, one in every 176 households in Wayne County, metropolitan Detroit, received a foreclosure filing during the month of July. In Macomb County, the figure was one household in every 285, meaning that 1,834 homeowners received the bad news in just one month. The Macomb County foreclosure rate puts it in the top three percent of all U.S. counties in the number of distressed homeowners.

Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent and Genessee counties were — in that order — the counties with the most homeowners facing foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac. As of July, there were more than 62,000 foreclosure filings in the entire state.

Now here’s the kicker. Guess where McCain’s regional headquarters have set up shop? In the same office building as foreclosure specialists Trott & Trott, a firm that has raised somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 for his campaign. No conflict of interest there I’m sure. Not that it matters, what they’re doing is entirely legal. Ask them and they’ll tell you this is strictly an attempt to keep the integrity of the voting process intact and not a cynical and callous attempt at voter suppression:

Kelly Harrigan, deputy director of the GOP’s voter programs, confirmed that she is coordinating the group’s “election integrity” program. Harrigan said the effort includes putting in place a legal team, as well as training election challengers. She said the challenges to voters were procedural rather than personal. She referred inquiries about the vote challenge program to communications director Bill Knowles who promised information but did not return calls.

Party chairman Carabelli said that the Republican Party is training election challengers to “make sure that [voters] are who they say who they are.”

When asked for further details on how Republicans are compiling challenge lists, he said, “I would rather not tell you all the things we are doing.”

I’m sure this isn’t the only tactic they’re planning to try and make it as difficult for Democrats to vote as possible. They’re determined to hold onto the White House by hook or by crook and they’re not at all ashamed about it.

9 thoughts on “Michigan Republicans using foreclosure lists to try and suppress voters.

  1. You know how George Washington won election to the Virginia House of Burgesses, his first elective office? He outspent his opponent in buying and distributing liquor and hard cider for votes. Politics has never been other than hook or crook. Look up the history of the general election of 1877. Samuel Tilden had a 250,000 popular vote lead, in 1877, but was one electoral vote shy of being elected. ALL 19 uncounted votes went to the Republican candidate, Rutherford Hayes, by a decision of the proper committee set up by both houses of Congress. And you thought Florida was the only electoral college problem in our country’s history. (ref: A People’s History of the United States 1492 – Present, by Howard Zinn)  tongue wink

  2. I must say I’m getting pretty nervous about this election. Especially since McCain has closed the enormous gap of polling.

  3. “I would rather not tell you all the things we are doing.”

    That right there is all you need to know to tell why they are doing this.  If what they are doing is legal and is only because they want the election to be fair, why would they want to hide what they’re doing?


  4. There was a report on ‘Newsnight’ (BBC flagship current affairs programme) tonight. OK it was by Greg Pallast, but the things Republicans are trying to do to stop voters is frightning.

  5. From the stats I’ve seen, Michigan is Obama’s to lose, and I don’t think these shenanigans will change things to any tipping-point.  More than anything, I want to see a Democratic-controlled House, Senate and White House finally put enough backbone into the Dems that the investigations into the FEC (not to mention the DOJ, Iraq, etc.) make Neuremberg look like Judge Judy.  I want to see the redistricting and the suppression and the Diebold BS called out, and I want to see the perps hauled kicking and screaming to face the full brunt of the Constitutional perogatives of Congress.  I want to see these mofos in @$$-packing prison.  I want to see their enablers in high places soul-searching in the wilderness until the GOP gets the @#$% out of bed with the megachurches and megacorporations or just puts itself out of the world’s misery.

  6. Another classic rant from our cubiclegrrl.  Yes, all those things are devoutly to be desired, but as long as we’re wishing, could we have world peace and environmental sustainability too?

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