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Reply #28


Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Aug 13, 2012, 08:28 AM

28. Why We Should Care About the Homeless Vote

http://www.alternet.org/activism/why-we-should-care-about-homeless-vote?akid=9204.227380.pInI2C&rd=1&src=newsletter691986&t=16

YOU MEAN, ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT IT'S A GROWING SECTION OF THE ELECTORATE?

Only 10 percent of homeless Americans vote each year, but they can still make a difference in local elections...Having a home is not a prerequisite to vote in the United States. But activists and homeless service providers still face major challenges trying to help homeless Americans register.

Pitts v. Black (1984) and several subsequent cases in the 1980s and '90s established that homeless people could not be denied the right to vote because they did not live in a traditional residence. A shelter, park or street corner can be designated as a residence. In states that require a mailing address for voter registration, homeless voters can usually use the addresses of shelters, churches, friends’ houses, or P.O. boxes.

Still, turnout among homeless voters is one of the lowest for any demographic. In the 2008 presidential election, people with the lowest income (family annual income less than $20,000) and people with no reported income -- the groups most homeless Americans fall into -- had the lowest voter registration rate and the lowest voting rate. According to Neil Donovan, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), only one-tenth of unhoused persons actually exercise the right to vote, and over the years, “the number has been fairly consistent.”

This is unfortunate, because homeless voters can make a difference. As the 2012 presidential election nears, issues that are relevant to homeless Americans, such as economic inequality, healthcare and job creation, will continue to shape the national debate. Although the homeless vote may not be a wild card for any candidate or party, with at least 1.6 million people experiencing homelessness nationwide, it does have the potential to change the game in some swing states...

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