A Republican plan to block voters who have had their homes foreclosed on in Macomb County, Michigan from voting in November has been legally challenged by the Obama campaign, who are seeking an injunction to block county Republicans from using foreclosure lists to prevent people from voting in the presidential election.
The story was originally broken by the Michigan Messenger that Republican volunteers planned to use the foreclosure lists to challenge the votes of anyone who had their home foreclosed on, because in order for a vote to count the voter must live in the same precinct that they are voting in. The Obama campaign has responded by seeking an injunction blocking the use of the foreclosure lists.
During a conference call this afternoon Obama legal counsel Bob Bauer explained the purpose of the lawsuit, “Let me be very clear. The purpose of the lawsuit is to reassure people that this is not going to unanswered. We have particular voters who would be threatened by this conduct and two organizations that are actively seeking to turn people out to vote who would be in this position, and who could conceivably believe that they shouldn’t respond, shouldn’t register and shouldn’t vote, because they would be subject to these illegal challenges…The purpose of this exercise is to protect people, and they can go forward in the knowledge that we are going to make absolutely sure that these foreclosure lists aren’t used to challenge otherwise eligible voters.”
The Michigan Republican Party denies the story, and that there ever was a plan to use foreclosure lists against voters. The Messenger story claims that the point of the plan is to suppress black turnout, but 91% of the county in question is white. 3,647 homes are in foreclosure in the county, and there is reason to believe that most of those homes belonged to white voters.
Perhaps, the plan wasn’t to suppress black voters, but Democratic voters in general. Most of the people who lost their homes did so because of sub-prime lending. Those loans targeted people in the economic lower classes. These are the same people that vote Democrat. It looks like it is going to be a close race between Obama and McCain in November, so the suppression of a few thousand Democratic votes could be enough to tip the state to McCain.
The Obama campaign seems to have learned from the previous two elections when voter suppression efforts went largely unchallenged by Democrats in Florida and Ohio. I think bringing these schemes out into the light of day is a very effective strategy for the Obama campaign. Of course, the Republicans are going to try to manipulate the process in a few critical states to win the election. This has become standard operating procedure. It is up to the Obama campaign to stop these efforts before they ever get started.