Sounds scary, right?
With the foreclosure crisis ushering over a million people into homelessness in the last two years, we’re seeing, again, political machinery go into high gear looking for capital at the expense of the folks who have lost their homes.
Rooflines has already reported on putative improprieties by the GOP in Michigan’s Macomb County, with the Party chair there quoted by a progressive online news source as saying he would use foreclosure lists at the polls as part of voter verification, but we’re seeing scheming now that, sadly, has become expected.
In Indiana, a state that has voted for a Bush three times and a Dole once, it’s come as a surprise to GOP officials that this is one of those states in play in the upcoming presidential election. But as the polls indicate a close race, concerns over unethical activity at the polls arises. From The Indianapolis Star:
Democratic Party and county election officials want to make sure that the high number of foreclosures in Marion County won’t mean that people such as Stewart, already down on their luck, lose their vote, too.
Democrats are concerned that Republican officials in Marion County and elsewhere might use home foreclosure lists as a way to challenge the residency of voters at the polls. The campaign of presidential candidate Barack Obama filed a lawsuit to keep the Michigan GOP from doing just that.
Early voting began Monday in Indiana, as both the McCain and Obama campaigns scrambled to increase voter registration there.
In a New York Times editorial titled “Foreclosures and the Right to Vote” published October 6, the hard truth that a million people have had to leave their homes in foreclosure in the last two years simply makes those who do own homes, who more or less live paycheck to paycheck, all the more worried. Losing your home feels like a real possibility for so many more people now.
Moreover, the areas where home foreclosure is most prominent are, alas, often in those key swing states that are likely to play pivotal roles in the elections this year — places like Ohio, Florida, and Michigan. So, take a terrible situation and sprinkle in some politics, and it’s now toxic, vile, and discriminatory.
The Times editorial says that while a large number of advocacy groups are mobilizing to keep the right to vote and property ownership separated, the fact that this issue is new to this election cycle, little work has been done so far to address it:
There are a large number of advocacy groups and other programs that work to ensure that minorities, the disabled and students are able to cast ballots. Because the foreclosure crisis is so recent, not much work has been done to ensure that people who lose their homes do not also lose their chance to vote.
It goes on to say that efforts should be made that allow voters who did have the leave their homes to be able to register from a new residence:
It is important that state and local elections officials do everything they can to help people caught up in foreclosure to cast ballots. They should make clear that in many circumstances, people in foreclosure still have the right to vote where they have been living. The rules vary by state. They should also widely advertise how people who leave their homes can change their registration, to vote from their new addresses.
In Indiana, the progressive blog Talking Points Memo highlights a political fight underway that questions a Lake County board of elections decision that slightly alters an existing law that says early voting can take place only in the county clerk’s main office, which for Lake County is in Crown Point, more than an hour’s drive from those cities. The BOE ruled September 23 that allows for the opening of satellite voting polls near the northern part of Lake County, near Chicago — an area that comprises the cities of Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago — all heavily African-American and, according to TPM make up for more than 40 percent of the county’s population.
Lake County’s board of election decision is, of course, being challenged. From TPM:
But Republicans argue that the decision is unfair to voters in other parts of the state, many of whom would still need to travel to their county seat to vote early. Last week, the county GOP challenged the move, arguing that the centers can only be approved through a unanimous vote of the election board, and asking for a restraining order on early voting. Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins — a recent appointee of the state’s GOP governor, Mitch Daniels — issued the order Friday. Within hours, a federal judge had vacated that decision, and announced a hearing this Thursday to resolve the issue.
So we’ll wait and see on this issue.
Voter suppression tactics have been reported in Montana, where the GOP is challenging the eligibility of roughly 6,000 voters in areas largely considered Democratic strongholds.
Other cases have been documented in Philadelphia, where fliers have been circulated in black neighborhoods warning potential voters of arrest at the polls if there’s an outstanding warrant or an unpaid parking ticket. These have not been tied to the GOP there.