Foreclosures and the 2012 electionGarfield says the impact of foreclosures on the election is difficult to predict because no one knows how likely the homeowners were to vote before their foreclosure and whether they have re-registered to vote in other locations.
"In Cleveland alone, more than 20,000 homes were bulldozed and tens of thousands more were foreclosed on," says Garfield. "If the election is as close as it's expected to be in a state like Ohio, the absence of 20,000 or 50,000 voters could make a big difference."According to NPR, more than 99,000 voters, about 26 percent of previously registered voters, have dropped off voter registration rolls in Cleveland since 2008. Garfield says that he often hears from foreclosure victims who are angry. "The anger toward the mega banks, toward President Obama and toward congressional Republicans hasn't really been addressed by either party," he says. "The sense I get anecdotally is that these people feel there's no difference between either political party. It's hard to say which way these voters will vote."
Voting rights and foreclosures"The big issue that we're trying to help people understand is that there are different points in the foreclosure process and those points impact the homeowners' ability to vote," says Ben Hovland, senior counsel for the Fair Elections Legal Network in Washington, D.C. "All 50 states have different ways of handling voting." The Fair Elections Legal Network has links to voting information for some of the hardest-hit states. Hovland says that in some states you can use your former home's address for voting purposes, especially if you are in temporary housing. "If you plan to stay in your new residence you need to update your residency for voting purposes," says Hovland. "Usually, if you cross county lines, you'll need to re-register to vote." Hovland says a few states allow Election Day registration and others allow you to update your address on voting day as long as you have moved within your state. "Most states require you to re-register before the voter registration period ends," says Hovland. "Under federal law, voter registration cannot end more than 30 days before the election, so many states closed their registration for the upcoming election on October 9."
Hovland says that if you are still living in your home, you can still vote from that address even if you are in the midst of a foreclosure."You can also vote from your old address even if you moved out, if you live in a state that has a right of redemption, which means there's a period of time in which you can repurchase your home, and have yet to establish a new residency," he says. Hovland says local voting rules prevail in every case, so anyone who is confused about their ability to vote should contact their local election officials. Garfield agrees, saying the important point is for foreclosure victims to proactively confirm their ability to vote by checking with their local voter registration board.