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Lose Your Home, Lose Your Vote

posted by Elizabeth Warren

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.

Comments

Property ownership, or lack thereof, is a poor standard of proof of residency. I'm not sure if Michigan is one but a number of states have passed legislation allowing tenants of foreclosed buildings to remain even after the foreclosure has taken place. What would happen to their voting rights in that scenario? Would they also lose the right to vote because they live at an address that appears on a "list"?

The leading foreclosure mill mentioned is Trott & Trott. T&T is a member of the United States Foreclosure Network. David Trott is listed on the "Leadership and Staff page as David A. Trott "(Immediate Past President - ex-officio) dtrott@trottlaw.com". He also appears further down the page as chair of the "Liaison" dept. of the USFN.
Source: http://www.usfn.org/Content/NavigationMenu/ABOUTUSFN/LeadershipStaff/default.htm . I won't be at all surprised if this issue pops up in more states and is shepherded, at least in part, by the local leading foreclosure mill.

Just imagine - NOW a homeowner can lose their home to an illegal foreclosure, have their credit totally trashed as a result, their lives completely thrown into chaos AND they can now potentially lose their right to vote. All this depending on what kind of information is being used to generate a "foreclosure list".

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Story?id=5423870&page=1

"Last year, Freddie Mac paid Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Syron nearly $19.8 million in compensation even though the mortgage company's stock lost half its value. During the same period, Fannie Mae President and Chief Executive Daniel Mudd got compensation valued by the company at $12.2 million, including a $2.2 million bonus."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
...a little salt for our wounds.

this seems like a silly analysis. I've worked on democratic campaigns and was told: "the poor don't vote." so your spin looks like muckracking to me.

I practice in Michigan and do some bankruptcy work. Generally, unless the property is "abandoned" (which wouldn't be the case if the debtors are still living there), the home-owner has a six-month redemption period, beginning on the day of the sale and ending six months thereafter, to live in the home, before the foreclosure sale becomes final, and the former owner can be evicted. For this purpose, this means that those sales that happened by about the beginning of May, 2008, or before, are the ones where people can be challenged as ineligible to vote. However, there are also provisions allowing one to vote at one's former address, if the move was shortly enough (roughly one month) before the election. At any rate, the people affected by this policy are already known, or knowable.

I practice in Michigan and do some bankruptcy work. Generally, unless the property is "abandoned" (which wouldn't be the case if the debtors are still living there), the home-owner has a six-month redemption period, beginning on the day of the sale and ending six months thereafter, to live in the home, before the foreclosure sale becomes final, and the former owner can be evicted. For this purpose, this means that those sales that happened by about the beginning of May, 2008, or before, are the ones where people can be challenged as ineligible to vote. However, there are also provisions allowing one to vote at one's former address, if the move was shortly enough (roughly one month) before the election. At any rate, the people affected by this policy are already known, or knowable.

Just a thought…

But if those people who were foreclosed on had filed for Bankruptcy; nobody challenged the jurisdiction and venue of the Bankruptcy and say it was confirmed as a 13 or discharged as a 7. There would be a supremacy issue wouldn’t there? Federal law would say that the debtor is a citizen of that particular city, state, zip…. So the State denying the debtors voting rights, based on a foreclosure would have some common issues that a Bankruptcy Judge may have jurisdiction to hear. ?? Or am I just thinking crazy?

So the state has “Immunity” because the state was not or is not involved with the bankruptcy (or doesn’t have to be) but maybe in some small way it was or had to be, ie. Property taxes, State income tax (not to mention that the foreclosure took place in that certain city, state, zip). The mortgage company would have to produce documents stating as such and the “stay” most likely would have stopped the foreclosure anyway. In a 13 the judge would have to deal with those issues in one way or another and in a 13 they would have to file a POC. Giving up in small or (big) part, their right to challenge the bankruptcy courts’ jurisdiction.

Denying the debtors right to vote may violate not only the “stay” but also a potential “discharge injunction” not taking into account, stopping the foreclosure in the first place. Bankruptcy may not only be a tool to save your "stuff" but a tool to save your right to vote as well. Sad...

Just kicking around some thoughts. Tell me if it’s crap…

I'm grateful that someone still considers the vote sacrosanct. We should welcome every effort to prevent voter fraud.

The real story here is the continuing vilification of lenders to the benefit of the defrauders ("who were cheated by subprime lenders"). It's time these liars faced consequences for their criminal actions - crimes that have now started to harm the wider economy. Debtors prison would be a good start. For real change, we need to consider retroactively converting these liar-loans to recourse debt.

After all, isn't this America, where people face the consequences of their actions?

Guess you don't owe anyone Jarhead. ?? Isn't that why we have bankruptcy? So your relatives (who probably came over on the Mayflower apparently) wouldn't have to go to prison for a debt owed to someone over seas? So long as we are talking crazy, why not reinstitute the death penalty for filing bankruptcy. Nip it in the bud… Then you would have a huge pool of indebted debtors to pull from to work on your cotton plantation and working for next to nothing. That’s what I call “moving towards financial independence”.

i must say thanks for bringing this to my attention - I’ve reviewed it myself now. A very enjoyable read

Well i must say , the impact of the mortgage crisis just keeps widening. People who were cheated by subprime lenders have lost everything they put into their homes, and they also have lost their eligibility to vote.

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