Meanwhile, in Michigan

Voter disenfranchisement gets creative

Original reporting is a beautiful thing, and so all journophiles should take heart at the local online “papers” springing up around the country to fill the Grand Canyon-sized gaps left by old-media local newspapers currently preoccupied with the task of chewing their own legs off.

Comes now the Michigan Messenger—offshoot of the Center for Independent Media—to report that a certain political party in Michigan—are you ready for this?— “is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election….”

That is correct: foreclosure lists will be used to purge voters.

Think I’m putting lipstick on this? The Messenger got it from the horse’s mouth.

“We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed.

The idea is simply that foreclosed-upon people no longer own the house, don’t live there, and shouldn’t be allowed to use it as their legal voting address.

Listen, the law’s the law.

And it’s great politics, too. I just think the people vetting these lists should wear top hats and have waxed mustaches.

The Messenger story adds more useful information, including that:

McCain’s regional headquarters are housed in the office building of foreclosure specialists Trott & Trott. The firm’s founder, David A. Trott, has raised between $100,000 and $250,000 for the Republican nominee.

So we can see the synergies there.

The Messenger story also links to the Columbus Dispatch, which is reporting that the same tactic is being contemplated in Ohio.

So let’s hear it for original reporting. Still, as a professional journalism critic, I detect two holes in the story:

1. For voting purposes in Michigan, does a U-Haul van qualify as a legal address?

2. Why would foreclosees as a group be less inclined to vote Republican? Hmm.

Oh well. Maybe some questions are beyond even journalism.

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Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014). Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.