Republicans in Michigan are planning to resort to an all too familiar battle tactic:  they’re planning to challenge voter eligibility.  Their ammunition?  A listing of home foreclosures.

The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP’s effort to challenge some voters on Election Day.

“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.

State election rules allow parties to assign “election challengers” to polls to monitor the election. In addition to observing the poll workers, these volunteers can challenge the eligibility of any voter provided they “have a good reason to believe” that the person is not eligible to vote. One allowable reason is that the person is not a “true resident of the city or township.”

Foreclosures are affecting minority voters the hardest.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Mr. Carabelli is making an effort to suppress the vote of African Americans–a sizable bloc in the city of Flint.

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.

While several are questioning the legality of the tactic, the GOP apparently also has strong ties to the area’s largest law firm specializing in home foreclosure.  Color me surprised.

The Macomb GOP’s plans are another indication of how John McCain’s campaign stands to benefit from the burgeoning number of foreclosures in the state. McCain’s regional headquarters are housed in the office building of foreclosure specialists Trott & Trott. The firm’s founder, David A. Trott, has raised between $100,000 and $250,000 for the Republican nominee.

It’s worked before, and it will probably work again if Democrats aren’t prepared to attack this problem head-on.  The solution would be to start working now on this sort of challenge.

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