Foreclosure Victims at Risk of Losing Out the Vote?

Washington-The forthcoming presidential election entails an economic and social connection between foreclosures and the vote, which most do not see as the "In what physical ballot will these people vote?" problem.

Social activists, however, are concerned those who are losing their homes, especially minorities and lower-income borrowers could be losing their vote as well.

According to NoVoterLeftBehind.net the predominantly African-American, Latino and low-income whites undergoing the pain of home foreclosure should watch out and ensure they do not lose the ability to vote in times of crisis. NVLB is urging Americans affected by the mortgage foreclosure crisis to learn their rights before Election Day. Center for Responsible Lending data show that one out of five subprime loans issued during 2005-2006 will fail so a total of 2.2 million home borrowers may have or will face foreclosure.

Attacks on voting rights based on mortgage foreclosure status are seen as a real concern especailly by Democrats since subprime loans were made far more frequently to African-Americans, Latinos and poor whites than to affluent whites. While legitimate, their concern about the minority vote in fact crosses party lines.

According to ComplianceTech, Arlington, Va., contrary to popular belief that subprime loans were mainly associated with minority and low-income borrowers, even though a disproportionate share of loans made to those borrowers were subprime-rate loans, "the majority of subprime-rate loans were made to non-Hispanic whites and upper-income borrowers." It found the majority of subprime-rate loans originated in 2006 were made to non-Hispanic whites and upper-income borrowers who received conventional and first-lien loans on one-to-four family, owner-occupied properties, both to purchase and refinance.

Analysis of data submitted by lenders under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act show that of the 1,917,809 subprime-rate loans originated in 2006, non-Hispanic whites received 70.82% of all loans and 56.23% of the subprime-rate loans.

Upper-income borrowers had the highest share of the subprime-rate loans at 39.37%, followed by 27.55% for middle-income borrowers and 20.99% for moderate-income borrowers, with low-income borrowers receiving only 149,173 loans, or 7.57% of 2006 subprime-rate loans.

The report also concluded that the majority of subprime-rate loans were originated in predominately white geographic areas representing census tracts less than 30% minority. Compared to joint applicants, the report also found that single men and single women received the highest share of 2006 subprime-rate loans. It suggests that many of these women whose vote is sought after by both presidential candidates and is seen as crucial to the election by many analysts may not be able to vote due to technical impediments. NVLB stressed that "the impact of foreclosure-based voter suppression could have a huge impact on swing states." For example, there are 23,000 home foreclosures in major metro areas in Ohio and 28,000 in Michigan cities.

NVLB said every American facing foreclosure needs to know: Voting is an inalienable right that one can't lose due to an inability to meet mortgage payments. Those going through the foreclosure process - but still live in their home - can vote where they live. Homeowners who are forced to move due to foreclosure before the voting registration deadline should re-register at their new home location, and if foreclosed homeowners move after the voting registration deadline - but before the election - they must go to vote where they were last registered to vote. Homeowners have the right to vote by signing an affirmation. But if their right to vote is challenged for any reason, or if one's name is not on the registered voter list, they have the right to vote by provisional ballot.

Donald L. Fowler, member of the NVLB board of advisors, said, "You don't lose your right to vote when you lose your home." NoVoterLeftBehind.net was created to help monitor voter registration and vote.

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