Obama Campaign Files Voter Rights Lawsuit

Wednesday, 17 September 2008 06:58 By Michael Falcone, The New York Times | name.

Obama Campaign Files Voter Rights Lawsuit
Barack Obama speaks during a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, Saturday. (Photo: Chris Carlson / AP)

    Responding to allegations that Republican Party officials in Macomb County, Michigan plan to use home foreclosure lists to challenge voters at the polls in November, the Obama Campaign and the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court to prevent what they contended was an illegal practice.

    Obama Campaign General Counsel Bob Bauer said that using home foreclosure lists as a basis for challenging voter eligibility would have a "deadly effect of the voting process" and argued that the practice would be illegal.

    "This is a standard operating procedure within the Republican party that's been under legal challenge," Mr. Bauer said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

    Last week the chairman of the G.O.P. in Macomb County, James Carabelli, was quoted in the online publican, the Michigan Messenger, as saying that the party planned to use foreclosure lists to stop voters who no longer have valid addresses from casting their ballots.

    "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses," Mr. Carabelli was quoted as saying, according to a Sept. 10 article in the Michigan Messenger.

    Since the story first appeared, Mr. Carabelli has repeatedly denied that the party planned to use the lists, and in an interview with The New York Times suggested that he was misquoted.

    "I have no voter challenging program here in my county," Mr. Carabelli said late last week.

    And in a statement on the Michigan G.O.P. Web site the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party Saul Anuzis called the story "a complete fabrication."

    "There has never been a plan to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters. There is no such plan, and there never will be such a plan. Period," Mr. Anuzis said.

    Mr. Anuzis repeated those assertions on a conference call today and said that the Republicans would formally ask the Messenger for a retraction. Absent that, he said, the G.O.P. would pursue a libel lawsuit against the publication.

    According to a statement on its Web site, Messenger editors appeared to be resisting calls for a retraction.

    "There will be no retraction because Mr. Carabelli and Mr. Anuzis' claims are unfounded. The quotes were not fabricated. Michigan Messenger and the Center for Independent Media stand behind this story 100 percent."

    Mr. Anuzis characterized the Democrats' legal action a "stunt."

    "It clearly shows their desperation as they move forward," he said.

    But the Obama campaign countered that the denials amounted to "backpedaling" on the part of the Michigan G.O.P., and said that they had enough evidence to go forward with the lawsuit.

    "Our position is very simply, they can tell it to the judge," Mr. Bauer said.

    A copy the Obama campaign's complaint, which was filed on Tuesday in United States District Court in Eastern Michigan, is available here.

Last modified on Friday, 12 December 2008 20:58