September 16th, 2008
06:17 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama campaign files suit over voter 'caging' allegations

(CNN) - Barack Obama's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee went to court on Tuesday to block what they said were efforts by Republicans in the battleground state of Michigan to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters at the polls in November.

The Michigan Republican party has threatened its own legal action over the matter, accusing a liberal blog of fabricating the quote from a party official that prompted the Democratic suit.

The Michigan Messenger, a liberal blog, reported that Macomb County Republican chairman James Carabelli had told a contributor to their site that the party had a list of homes in foreclosure and would “make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses” – a comment he denies ever making.

The blog and its sponsor, the nonprofit Center for Independent Media, are standing by the story.

Obama general counsel Bob Bauer told reporters Tuesday that the campaign, the Democratic National Committee and three Michigan residents whose homes were in foreclosure had filed suit in federal court in the state, charging that the alleged comment, and other similar remarks by Republican officials in other states, indicated the GOP planned to practice a form of “voter caging” to prevent legal voters from casting ballots.

“It is an absolute attack on their right to vote,” said Bauer. “…This is a standard operating procedure within the Republican party that’s been under legal challenge.” He added that the suit would give them the ability to subpoena memos and e-mails to prove the allegation.

Caging is the practice of sending mass mailings marked with “do not forward” instructions to a list of addresses, and using any returned letters as the basis for challenging a voter who claims that address as their legal residence. Michigan law allows individuals who have lost their homes within two months of Election Day to cast a ballot in their old precinct.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California raised the same concern Wednesday at a hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller – who said he would alert the Justice Department, but was not aware of any threats to block voter access.

Carabelli, the Republican official credited with the original comment, said the story was fabricated and had “irrevocably harmed” his reputation.

“It’s not true, and I want a full and complete retraction of the quote, and I am taking legal action to get it,” he said in a statement released by the Michigan Republican Party Tuesday. “Let me state, again and unequivocally, there is no such plan to use foreclosure lists to challenger voters, and I never said there was. This is a story line being pushed by one liberal blog, the Obama campaign, and their friends and operatives on the Left.”

A spokesman for the state party told CNN late Tuesday that they planned to send the Web site that published the story a cease and desist letter Wednesday morning. If the story was not retracted immediately, he said, the party was already planning a lawsuit against “anyone who’s perpetuated this fabricated story” with a list of defendants “as broad as possible” – including the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Filed under: Michigan
soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. CM

    The high turnout expected for this election spells certain doom for the Republicans. Their only hope is to cull the electorate.

    September 16, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  2. Independent NV Voter

    I am now voting Democrat. With all the vile put out by the Republican party, I cannot vote for McCain/Palin.

    September 16, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  3. Ohio voter

    Wow, here we go again. The GOP are up to their dirty tricks AGAIN. They are already working on stealing Michigan as they did Florida in 2000.

    September 16, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  4. McWhine

    It's about time!! Suit pants of these hartless bastards!!

    September 16, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  5. John from LA

    Now the DNC is concerned about the voters of MI-What a laugh!!!!

    September 16, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  6. judy in PA

    hmmmmmm are we headed back to only property owners can vote?

    September 16, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  7. Purse out of a Moose's ear

    Notice to CHEATING LYING POS REPUBLICANS, you will lose anyway.

    September 16, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. dale fee

    here the scum bags go again they have no morals and its time to stop them bunch of low lifes..,////

    September 16, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  9. Leslie

    McCain has sunk to the typical republican lie and cheating machine. What happened to the "maverick"? He has lost any shred of integrity and decency! We have now found how low he can go.

    He and Palin can continue to lie and repeat the same lies even after being corrected by many unbiased reliable sources. They obviously have Karl Rove working for them. Karl Rove, the person that gave the finger to the judicial system when suppeonaed to testify against the lies of the Bush Administration.




    September 16, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. v.a

    Voter Frauds just like in the 3 rd world.....

    September 16, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Here we go again – 2000 it was Florida, 2004 it was Ohio and now 2008 it's Michigan. Will we let the Republicans lie and cheat their way to the top again?

    September 16, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  12. rachel

    It is a little ironic of Obama to cry foul about someone trying to block votes, but if GOP are seriously getting lists of people'sr who's homes are in forclosure to stop them from voting then they need to be exposed.

    September 16, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  13. Bulldog

    Republicans will win at any cost, even if it's illegal. Republican should be ashamed of themselves but I have a strong feeling they are not even though most of them claim to be Christians. What would Jesus think of these very people who are will to lie and cheat to get what they want? I don't think it would be very good.

    September 16, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  14. McDangerous

    If true, it's sickening.

    If false, it makes the Dems look bad.

    I look forward to seeing which!

    September 16, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  15. Jay Jay - The Informed Voter



    THIS IS LYING 101.

    September 16, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. aliou

    no body should be taking any chances with our democracy. Thank God for Obama, Lawyers are ready to go for any foul play the repuks throw at us.

    Obama is no Algore. Don't mess with him.....

    September 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  17. Christian, Tampa FL

    The GOP is using voter caging all over the country. Since they obviously can't win on the issues and with real democracy, they have to win through smears (lies) and diabolical political warfare.

    September 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  18. Kaye- Jacksonville FL

    Oh yeah – don't let them steal another election!! They can win it fair and square, but they don't know how to win without cheating....if they're looking to exclude foreclosed voters from the polls, I hope they get one hell of a fight from the judicial bench....totally and irrationally unfair....

    September 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  19. Yinka

    Dirty tricks from the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republicans. Victory at all cost: lying and robbing voters of their rights.

    September 16, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. cadence

    Leave it to the Born-Again,Bible Preaching, Evangelistic Republicans! Never mind living the "ten commandments". For your entire lifetime you have lead your neighbors, friends and others to believe that you practice the ten commandments everyday, and are peacemakers. When in reality, you will do and/or say ANYTHING TO GET YOUR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE(S) ELECTED! Lie, Steal, Cheat, and lie some more!

    September 16, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  21. Just say NO to Palin/McCain

    This wouldn't surprise me if it were absolutely true. Has everyone checked their voter registration? I heard that some people were being purged from the list even if they have recently voted, so I checked mine out. I was gone. I have only lived in this state for 9 years and at the same address. I have voted in every election ....state...local...federal. I even voted in the 2008 democratic primary and I had to re-register to vote a few weeks ago. EVERYONE...check your registration status online with your state or else you could show up on Nov 4th and not be allowed to vote!!

    September 16, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  22. Copy-Cat

    VOTE democrat or sink in shame around the world.
    GWB you made this bed......time to sleep in it. Grandpa Johnny and Madame Plain will visit you at the Crawford ranch.

    September 16, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  23. dennise

    So terrible! The republicans are so desperate to keep the white house. I won't be surprised to hear about the rest of the tactics!

    September 16, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  24. Just say NO to Palin/McCain

    Homeless people have a right to vote!!!

    September 16, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  25. Reagan

    I have to say that is just stupid on the part of the Obama campaign and Obamas camp should be the LAST ones to talk about stong arming voters, using false security numbers, deceased people etc. during the Primaries.

    September 16, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
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