Expert: 'Caging' scheme will backfire on GOP
Election dirty tricks have been known to backfire in the past, and it may be happening again in 2008. According to the author of How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative, an alleged scheme to prevent voters who have encountered foreclosure proceedings on their homes from voting in November is "going to work against the Republicans."
Last week, the Michigan Messenger detailed a plan by the Macomb County, Michigan Republican party to challenge voters whose names appear on foreclosure lists, describing it as one among numerous such GOP plans to challenge African-Americans and other likely Democratic voters on Election Day in crucial swing states such as Michigan and Ohio.
Olbermann was joined in his discussion of the story by Allen Raymond, who came by his expertise on vote-rigging the hard way, having been imprisoned in 2006 for his involvement in an illegal GOP phone-jamming operation during the 2002 elections.
Raymond explained that this threatened use of foreclose lists is a new form of what is called "vote caging," which has traditionally meant that "you essentially send a first-class letter to a hoursehold where you suspect that that person no longer lives there but where they're still registered to vote. That letter comes back. ... Somebody [at the local polling place] then challenges that vote if that person comes in to vote."
Vote caging first became notorious during the 2004 presidential election, when it was allegedly used against predominently black voters in Florida.
Olbermann asked Raymond whether the foreclosure scheme was "a big play" that might actually prevent some people from voting on Election Day or just an attempt to scare off potential voters through media coverage.
Raymond suggested in response that "ironically, it's actually something that the Obama campaign can use now to gin up intensity. ... It's a bit of a ju-jitsu move. It's going to work against the Republicans."
Joe Biden has already made use of the story, saying durng a speech in Michigan, "I was told yesterday that there's a Republican County Chairman right here in your state, Michigan, that said that they're keeping a list of foreclosed homes, suggesting that anyone who lost their home in foreclosure should also lose their right to vote. [crowd boos] Ladies and gentleman, if you're worried about losing your home, you should vote for the guys who are prepared to help you keep your home, not those would take it away!"
The Michigan Republican Party has since demanded a retraction from the Michigan Messenger and has threatened a lawsuit, but according to Olbermann, as of Wednesday afternoon no legal papers had been filed. However, the Democrats have filed their own lawsuit, seeking an injunction against the tactic.
Raymond concluded by commenting that the initiative to deploy thousands of lawyers on Election Day might not catch every attempt at trickery of this sort, but "it's such a close election, you'd better be doing everything."
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast September 17, 2008.
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