GOP admits plan to use foreclosure list to challenge voters
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Monday October 20, 2008

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In a startling concession, the Republican Party has admitted to participating in an illegal scheme to use foreclosure lists to challenge predominantly Democratic voters in Michigan on Election Day.

An announcement by the Michigan Democratic Party of the settlement of a suit brought last month by the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign states, "The settlement acknowledges the existence of an illegal scheme by the Republicans to use mortgage foreclosure lists to deny foreclosure victims their right to vote. This settlement has the force of law behind it and ensures that Republicans cannot disenfranchise families facing foreclosure."

Early in September, a progressive-leaning website in Michigan had reported that the Republican Party in Macomb County was planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to prevent the former owners from voting. The plan was seen as likely to disproportionately affect African-Americans, who more often receive subprime loans.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee immediately announced they would file a federal lawsuit to prevent challenges based on foreclosure lists alone. It is that suit which has now been settled. At the same time, Macomb County GOP Chairman James Carabelli threatened to sue the Michigan Messenger over the story, saying they had "made it up."

CNN reviewed the situation on Monday morning, prior to the announcement of the settlement, and found that the Democrats had no doubt there was a deliberate attempt at disenfranchisement. Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer told CNN, "They made that political calculation that by and large they don't want those people voting, because they think they're going to vote for Barack Obama."

Reporter Eartha Jane Melzer, who wrote the original story for the Michigan Messenger, said she was standing by it. "I spoke with Carabelli myself and I have total confidence in what he told me," she stated. "I have clear notes of our conversation."

Carabelli did not return CNN's calls, and the state GOP declined to be interviewed.

CNN emphasized that anybody who has lost their house still has the right to vote wherever they are currently living, or even at their former address if the eviction occurred less than 60 days prior to Election Day. Despite this, Democrats fear that Republicans plan to challenge voters based on discrepancies in addresses.

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast October 20, 2008.

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