Lose Your Home, Lose Your Vote
With both political parties are focused on Michigan this fall, high foreclosure rates and the neighborhood fallout from those foreclosures are likely to become a political issue. The GOP has announced a new way to deal with the problem: challenge the voting eligibility of people whose homes have been posted for foreclosure. Evidently the GOP thinks those people are more likely to vote Democratic, so it can neutralize the impact of a sour housing market by barring votes from those who are losing their homes.
It isn't clear from the report whether the challenge is based on posted foreclosures or homes that have already been transferred from the homeowner. Presumably the challenge is based on no longer living in the area. Depending on how the list is constructed, this means challenging some larger or smaller number of people who are in financial trouble, but who are in their homes and are certainly eligible to vote in their local precincts.
Even if people are eventually allowed to vote, officials are already expressing concern about the long lines that such challenges would create. Of course, if those long lines are concentrated in the precincts with the highest proportions of foreclosures, perhaps that is all that is needed. Long lines may discourage votes in troubled neighborhoods where people are trying to cope with the fallout from foreclosures, but it will be easy in-and-out voting for those in more prosperous areas.
The leading foreclosure firm in the state seems to be a major supporter of the GOP's election efforts. That's a connection worth exploring--a law firm to file the foreclosures and a political party to challenge voters based on those same foreclosure filings.
The impact of the mortgage crisis just keeps widening. People who were cheated by subprime lenders have lost everything they put into their homes, have seen their credit destroyed and now may be unable to prove their eligibility to vote. Costs are also mounting for people who live in neighborhoods that were the targets of subprime campaigns--abandoned properties, crime, plummeting housing values. Those neighbors are paying those costs even when they had nothing to do with subprime debt.
As the foreclosure crisis gets deeper, it also gets wider.