WASHINGTON - The reported effort has been denounced as "lose your home, lose your vote".
"It is part of a broader scheme to harass voters and suppress the vote in
the state of Michigan," said a spokesman for the Barack Obama campaign.
The campaign has joined the Democratic National Committee and several voters
in Macomb County to file an injunction to prohibit the Republican Party from
challenging Michigan voters whose homes are on foreclosure lists.
The state has one of the worst foreclosure rates in the country, receiving
11,000 notices in July alone. Figures show more than half of the foreclosed
homes are owned by blacks, who as a group lean to Obama and Democrats.
Macomb County, north of Detroit, is a swing area in presidential elections and
capable of tipping the battleground state either way. Both Mr Obama and
Republican rival Senator John McCain have campaigned in the county.
Macomb County Republican Party Chairman James Carabelli was quoted as saying
last week by the Michigan Messenger web paper that "We will have a list
of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those
He later denied making the remark. Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark
Brewer said Republicans have tried in the past to discourage Democratic
voters at polling stations and, "I simply do not believe his denial.
This fits the pattern we've seen here in Michigan."
Bob Bauer, a senior lawyer with the Obama campaign said any such tactic
creates an atmosphere of intimidation that could drive voters from the
polls. The campaign says Republicans are trying to compile a list of
foreclosed owners and their addresses which they plan to use to challenge
voters at polling stations.
The Republicans are likely to argue they are merely keeping a watch over voter
fraud, though non-partisan groups have said the number of cases where false
addresses and similar ruses are used is minimal.
The row will revive memories of past cases when Republicans have been accused
of removing preventing likely Democrat voters from voting, as in the
decisive Florida recount of 2000 and again in 2004.