Michigan Asks: Does Foreclosure Take Away Right to Vote?


The housing crisis suddenly has a whole new address: voting rights. Yesterday the chairman of the Macomb County Republican Party was quoted in the Michigan Messenger as saying he's set to assign election challengers with "a list of foreclosed homes and [we] will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses." The statement voting laws, which require an address and a desire to make sure proper election procedures were followed. Furor erupted immediately, with Project Vote issuing the following statement:

The Macomb County GOP's plan is a cynical partisan attempt to suppress the vote of thousands of low-income and African-American voters. . . . Just because you're behind on your mortgage doesn't mean you lose the right to vote. . . the challengers will still achieve nothing but to slow down voting and create an intimidating atmosphere at strategically chosen polls.

The chairman has since announced to the Detroit News, "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." Challenges are allowed at the polls if the challenger "knows or has good reason to suspect" a voter isn't eligible, a rule the Secretary of State has clarified to need "reliable sources or means." There's also a new state law requiring voters to produce photo identification.

Outdated addresses could be a very real problem this election. Ohio earlier this summer said that 3,700 people are registered to vote at vacant addresses, and another 27,000 have filled out change-of-address notices without updating their registration. Will foreclosures and outdated voter lists affect the accuracy of the results?

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