Posted Sept. 12, 2008 – The head of the Michigan’s Macomb County Republican Party, which is in a key swing county in the upcoming presidential election, denied charges late Thursday that he had hatched a plot to block residents with foreclosed homes from voting in November.
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James Carabelli, chairman of the county GOP, was quoted in The Michigan Messenger saying that "we will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses." But he said that the reports, which were swirling around cyberspace with the ferocity of Hurricane Ike, were all lies.
"I never said anything even close to that. We won't be doing voter challenges on foreclosures, and we've never had a plan to do it," He told The Detroit News.
After the Messenger article earlier in the day, Carabelli was being blasted by everybody from the Detroit-based Jobs for Justice workers’ rights group to some Republican voters, who called such actions reprehensible. Some observers speculated that targeting voters from foreclosed properties would have a devastating impact on Election Day.
"Sometimes it doesn't take much to keep people away from the polls," John Klemanski, a Macomb County native and longtime political science professor at Oakland University, told the News.
While Michigan’s election laws permit election challengers, reports the Messenger, experts questioned whether it was legal to target those on foreclosure lists.
“You can’t challenge people without a factual basis for doing so,” J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department told the newspaper. And he called such an action “mean-spirited,” saying, “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.”