Obama team files suit over alleged GOP 'caging' plan
Published: Tuesday September 16, 2008

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As if foreclosed homeowners around Detroit didn't already have enough on their minds, they learned last week that some local Republicans would be trying to make it harder for them to vote.

Barack Obama's presidential campaign and Michigan Democrats say they don't want to let that happen and announced plans Tuesday to file a lawsuit aimed at stopping the GOP's alleged voter caging plan.

"It is an absolute attack on their right to vote," Obama campaign lawyer Bob Bauer told reporters during a midday conference call Tuesday.

Vote caging is a practice that involves keeping voters from the polls by attempting to demonstrate they do not live at the address where they are registered. The alleged GOP scheme would apply this tactic to voters whose homes have been foreclosed.

The complaint is available here on Obama's Web site.

“Senator McCain said last week that he was ‘divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have,’ and he certainly has proven that to Michigan families,” said Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe.  “Senator McCain has no real plan to turn Michigan’s economy around or help families faced with losing their homes – so his party has decided the only way to save his campaign is to deny the right to vote to families most affected by his disastrous economic policies.” 

The Detroit News provides some background on the controversy, including a local Republican party official's denial that he wants to keep voters who've lost their homes away from the polls.

An article in the Michigan Messenger, a left-leaning political news Web site, appeared Wednesday titled: "Lose your house, lose your vote." In it, reporter Eartha Jane Melzer quoted Carabelli discussing the Macomb County Republican Party's plans for Election Day.

"We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses," the quote attributed to him reads.

Carabelli, however, told The Detroit News on Thursday that "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."

Despite Carabelli's denials, the story has generated harsh criticism of the party chairman, including a call for him to resign by one activist group. Jobs with Justice, a Detroit-based workers' rights organization, issued a release Thursday saying it will converge on the Farmington Hills campaign headquarters of Republican presidential candidate John McCain today at noon to pressure the party to abandon any plans to use foreclosure information against voters.

The Obama campaign's lawsuit targets the Republican National Committee along with the Michigan and Macomb County parties. It seeks to keep GOP poll watchers from "harassing" voters on Election Day.