Thursday, September 11, 2008

Michigan! Just Like The Founding Fathers Intended

Yesterday we learned that the Michigan political elite are apparently so dense voters have to vote twice to get their message across. Today we learn why: Only landowners can vote so they vote once for themselves and once for everyone else. Or something.

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 keep people who've been paying attention the last eight years from getting into the polling booth. "We tried to limit it to only white landowners," party chairman James Carabelli said. "But we didn't think that would fly. We are trying to get renters' votes to count as three fifths of a vote though."

“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. "Although it is true that republicans consider not being rich and white factual basis enough."

The Macomb County party’s plan to challenge voters who have defaulted on their house payments is likely to disproportionately affect African-Americans. "Yeah. That African-American part is what caught our attention," Carabelli said.

“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,” Herbert told reporters.

"No problem," Carabelli replied. "We're just trying to make voting as complicated as mean as valid as possible."

Statewide, the Republican Party is gearing up for a comprehensive voter challenge campaign, according to Denise Graves, party chair for Republicans in Genessee County, which encompasses Flint. "Look, we've fought hard to get this country where it is today. We're not willing to risk that to unqualified voters,'" she said. "And what better way to show you are qualified than owning your own house. Well, I suppose you could be a registered republican, but that's probably asking too much."

Kelly Harrigan, deputy director of the GOP’s "preferred voter" programs, confirmed that she is coordinating the group’s “Bleach The Vote” program. "It's nothing personal," she said. "These people can't help it because they believed what their real estate agents told them. Who trusts those guys?"

Party chairman Carabelli said that the Republican Party is training election challengers to “make sure that [voters] are who they say who they are: White and rich, although we'll be flexible with the rich part. This is Michigan after all.”

Joe Rozell, director of elections for Oakland County in suburban Detroit, acknowledged that challenges such as those described by Carabelli are allowed by law but said they have the potential to create long lines and disrupt the voting process. "What's your point?" Carabelli asked.

According to voter challenge directives handed down by Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, voter challenges need only be “based on information obtained through a reliable source or means. So if you see someone coming into the polling place, and that person doesn't look sufficiently free of melanin, you can reliably assume that person needs to be challenged.”

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