I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Michigan ‘voter-foreclosure’ controversy prompts NM GOP to say no to using list to challenge voters
A firestorm of controversy was set off earlier this month when Michigan Messenger reporter Eartha Melzer quoted a Michigan Republican Party chairman in regards to using a list of foreclosed homes in an effort to block people people from voting in the upcoming general election.
Since that report the Obama campaign has filed suit in Michigan to block any use of foreclosure lists in challenging voters. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Micheal Mukasey to launch an investigation into the matter as well as to Republican presidential candidate John McCain to denounce any efforts by the Republican Party to engage in voter suppression.
There are also reports that U.S. Department of Justice lawyers are looking into the allegations.
Given the controversy, the New Mexico Independent called the New Mexico Republican Party. The party has no plans to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters, said party spokesperson Shira Rawlinson, who added the party was unaware of the controversy. “There are no plans, nor were there ever any plans for the Republican Party to use foreclosure lists.”
Angela Guyadeen, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of New Mexico, said “We at the Democratic Party of New Mexico are following this issue closely and will take swift and appropriate action should New Mexico voters be denied the right to vote during the election.”
Although the controversy has largely turned into a partisan back-and-forth, the New Mexico Independent was curious as to the voting status of people who are in the process of foreclosure throughout the state.
Larry Dominquez of the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections said in a phone interview that people who are going through a foreclosure are safe as long as they can verify their name, as well as the address for which they are registered.
When asked if there has been any public awareness campaign to educate those going through a foreclosure of their voting rights, Dominguez said, “That is a valid point and we do need to address that issue. I’m going to talk with the Secretary of State about it.”
In an email to the New Mexico Independent Dominquez stated:
Pursuant to Article 1-1-7A NMSA, Laws of the State of New Mexico states, “For the purpose of determining residence for voting, the place of residence is governed by the following rules:
A. the residence of a person is that place in which his habitation is fixed, and to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention to return.”
The original controversy stemmed from a quote in the Michigan Messenger story attributed to James Carabelli, chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County, Michigan. In a telephone interview with Melzer, Carabelli stated, ““We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses.”
Carabelli later said that he never made the comments and “no plans are in the works to target foreclosure victims,” according to the Macomb Daily.
When asked whether Michigan Republicans plan to create a challenge list based on returned direct mail, a practice known as “vote caging,” Doster replied, “I think so. I know this has been done in years past … both parties may be doing this.”
The Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation last week that keeps those going through a foreclosure from being challenged at the polls.
Melzer was on the radio program Counterspin this week and relayed a conversation she had with former GOP strategist Allen Raymond who indicated that such practices are fairly commonplace because they are cheap and effective.