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Foreclosures Could Cost Votes

We don’t need more reasons to worry about foreclosure rates. Digby, nonetheless, citing this AP/ story, provides one: the affect foreclosures could have on voting rolls…

  • Thaddeus Kromelis
July 30, 2008

foreclosed home We don’t need more reasons to worry about foreclosure rates. Digby, nonetheless, citing this AP/ story, provides one: the high rate of foreclosures in Ohio and the affect election officials believe it could have on their voting rolls. (Digby cited the voting issue in the context of a 7/26 longer posting on Hans von Spakovsky, “legal disenfranchisement” and “voter fraud.”) There’s concern that a wave of voters, still registered to their former—foreclosed—address, will show up to the polls on election day. This could lead to a number of pre-election challenges or a whole lot of voters casting provisional ballots in Ohio.


“It’s a real issue,” said Daniel Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor who specializes in elections. He wonders whether foreclosures might explain the increasing percentages of provisional votes cast between 2004 and Ohio’s latest election, the presidential primary in March.


Nearly 3,700 people are registered to vote at Columbus addresses the city lists as vacant, according to records maintained by the city’s code-enforcement office and the Franklin County Board of Elections, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The number of voters on the move is higher than that. The Franklin County Board of Elections sent notices in January to about 27,000 residents who had filled out change-of-address forms but failed to update their voter registrations.

During May, Ohio ranked ninth in the country for foreclosures. And Ohio isn’t the only battleground state that made the top ten. Other states include: Nevada leading the county, Florida in fourth, Michigan fifth, Georgia sixth, Colorado seventh and New Jersey tenth.

“Most states put the onus on voters to re-register when they move. Those citizens hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis have to go through this extra bureaucratic hurdle or else be shut out of their new polling places,” noted Wendy Weiser, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy program, in a recent conversation we had about this story. ”This shouldn’t happen," she continued, “the government should take responsibility for making sure that their voter rolls are up to date so that all citizens—including those who suffered a foreclosure—can participate in our democracy.”

Indeed, it’s too bad that in this country barriers to voter registration compound an already unfortunate situation by disenfranchising people who are understandably busy struggling to keep roofs over their heads and may not have the time to check on their registration status. It’s important we ensure that those who are eligible to vote, can vote. And if we work to pass a system of universal voter registration, then people who have relocated and had their lives completely disrupted wouldn’t also be strapped with the extra task of having to re-register to vote.

Click here to learn more about universal voter or to join our universal voter registration action network.