MI Dems, GOP Settle Suit Over Use of Foreclosure to Challenge Voters — But Fight Goes On

October 21, 2008 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Michigan Democrats and Republicans reached a settlement Monday in a lawsuit charging that the Republican Party planned to illegally use lists of foreclosed residents to challenge voters on Election Day. The case was brought based on statements made to a reporter for TWI’s sibling publication, The Michigan Messenger.

The parties to the lawsuit issued a joint statement:

Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and individual Macomb County residents have alleged that the Republican National Committee, the Michigan Republican Party and the Macomb County Republican Party were planning to use foreclosure lists to challenge certain voters on Election Day. The Republicans have denied the allegations and have stated that they never intended to challenge voters based on any such list. To clarify the matter for all voters, all parties are pleased that they agree that the existence of a person’s address on a foreclosure list does not provide a reasonable basis for challenging the person’s eligibility to vote and that none of these parties will challenge any voter’s eligibility on that basis.

As the Michigan Messenger reports, however, that may not be the end of the story.

Voting experts say the Republicans might still be able use the foreclosure lists to bring a broader challenge against a large number of voters, without acknowledging the basis for some of the challenges. Michigan law does not require vote challengers to disclose the source of the information supporting their challenges, though challenges are supposed to be made “in good faith.”

Meanwhile, the Michigan Democratic Party is twisting the story a bit in its latest press release, which states, “The settlement acknowledges the existence of an illegal scheme by the Republicans to use mortgage foreclosure lists to deny foreclosure victims their right to vote.”

In fact, Michigan Republicans have admitted nothing of the kind.