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Disenfranchising the Foreclosed

September 19th, 2008

Story out of Michigan: a left-leaning web site reported that the Macomb County, Michigan Republican Party Chairman James Carabelli stated that he plans to use lists of families with foreclosed homes as a target for challenging their voter eligibility. In just the second quarter of this year, about 63,000 homes were foreclosed in Michigan alone, and reportedly more than half of the foreclosures in Michigan are on homes owned by African-Americans–likely Democratic voters, as are the others who lost their homes. As the saying goes, a Democrat is a Republican who lost his job, or in this case, his home.

While it is true that the report came from a left-leaning web site and that the source denies the story, it fits in very closely with Republican voter-suppression tactics of the past. In 2004, Michigan Republican state senator John Pappageorge said, “If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election.” Publicly. Also in 2004, the GOP played a dirty trick by sending mass mailings to black college students during the summer break when they were inevitably not at their college addresses; when the letters, marked “do not forward,” were of course returned, they were used to challenge these strongly Democratic-leaning voters their right to vote in that election. So going after people, mostly black, who had their homes foreclosed–most likely strongly Democratic–fits in perfectly with documented past Republican efforts.

The Republicans who are denying this story claim that it can’t be true because “the lists don’t give them information on where a voter lives.” However, this is not a deterrent for the GOP voter caging program–in fact, it’s a perk for them. Remember, in the 2000 election, they successfully disenfranchised tens of thousands of African-American Florida voters, overwhelmingly Democratic, simply because they had names resembling those of convicted felons. Here again, they have a list which is mostly black and Democratic, and would likely use the same tactic of overreaching to try to disenfranchise everyone in the state with names matching those on the lists. As stated, it fits in with past documented Republican disenfranchisement efforts.

So, while there is a possibility that this story is not true, the Obama campaign is quite wise to file in court for an injunction to prevent Republicans from doing this. Because despite their current spate of denials, Republicans also have a past record of not only denying stuff they’re doing, but also of doing reprehensible acts and then defending it with thinly-veiled arguments to make it sound like it was somehow necessary, justified, or even patriotic. After all, the whole voter caging and disenfranchisement effort is based upon accusing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of honest American citizens of being vote-stealing criminals. Which also fits this story.

  1. September 25th, 2008 at 00:47 | #1

    I’m from Michigan originally, and my parents still live there (Flint) so I’ve been following this story closely. In the back-and-forth between the GOP and the Michigan Messenger, the fact that the Obama campaign is filing suit was the final nail in the coffin, in terms of establishing the Republicans’ intentions.

    If they aren’t using the foreclosure lists to challenge voters, then what exactly are they using them for?

    Alternately, if they aren’t challenging voters with foreclosure lists, then who do they intend to challenge, and on what basis?

    It’s pretty obvious what’s happening here…

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