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.