While pundits and pollsters explore every avenue to predict the outcome of the 2012 election, one group of people may have a major impact on the election simply because of their absence: foreclosure victims. Whether these foreclosure victims have moved within their county, across state lines or are still living in their home during the foreclosure process, their ability to vote and even their willingness to vote may have been impacted because of their foreclosure. A study published by the University of California, Riverside in August 2012 showed that voter turnout in California was lower during the 2008 election in areas heavily impacted by foreclosures. In every state, voter registration is tied to residency, but states vary in how a voter must establish their residency and re-register to vote. With some 1.3 million homes in some stage of foreclosure as of August 2012 and with approximately 3.8 million foreclosures already complete since September 2008, according to the market research firm CoreLogic, foreclosures could keep hundreds of thousands of voters away from the polls this November. "I don't have a crystal ball about how the election will turn out, but some of the hardest hit real estate markets are in swing states like Ohio and Florida," says Neil Garfield, author, attorney and consumer advocate in Phoenix. "Some of those neighborhoods in places like Cleveland and Detroit not only experienced a lot of foreclosures, but the home were bulldozed. No one really knows how many voters from those areas have re-registered to vote wherever they landed."
Foreclosures and the 2012 election
Garfield 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.