Are You Homeless? You Can Still Vote. Here's How:

Sep 01, 2020

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COVID19 has taken a toll on everyone, from the tragic toll to its economic impacts. It is estimated that some 40 million people may be evicted (and still more are already homeless), which raises a difficult issue: can people who are homeless still vote? According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, "Studies show that 70% of those registered to vote by volunteer efforts in welfare and food stamp offices actually go to the polls and vote in presidential elections." So, we want to help make sure that EVERYONE who wants to vote CAN vote. It's especially important for all of us to vote this year so that we can stop evictions and homelessness and create an economy that works for everyone. We highly recommend visiting ourhomes-ourvotes.org if you would like to get involved and help make sure that homeless voters get to vote, have their rights protected, and work to end homelessness. It's a great resource. If you have questions about whether or how homeless people can vote, look no further than here:

Homeless People And Voting: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions & Help to Make Sure Everyone Can Vote

Can I Vote/Register to Vote if I'm Homeless? The short answer is YES, you can vote if you are homeless in every state, Washington DC, and any other US territory.

What Should I List as My Address if I'm Homeless? Nonprofit Vote recommends that homeless individuals list a shelter as their voting address, if that shelter is a place where they can receive mail. In many cases, an address where a homeless person can receive mail (their "mailing address") may allow them to register and vote--and that mailing address may be able to include places like a family member's home or, sometimes, a PO box. If you are homeless and cannot provide a physical address on your voting registration card, not to worry--you can often list a street corner or a park as your residence for voting registration purposes (and to be able to vote in upcoming elections). The courts have told the states that they must allow homeless residents to register and vote. Here are a few changes to the general rules for specific states:

  1. Hawaii: An individual without a conventional home address or home shall provide: (A) A description of the location of the residence sufficient to ascertain a voting district and precinct; and (B) A mailing address within the state, and where the person is legally entitled and does in fact receive mail.
  2. Louisiana: Louisiana requires a "residence address," so you will need a street or rural route physical address. They will not accept a PO Box address.
  3. North Dakota: You do NOT have to register to vote. The only rule is that you have to live in the state for at least 30 days before the election.
  4. Ohio: If you have a mailing address, that must be put on your voter registration form. But, if not, a geographical description of where you are staying will work.
  5. Oregon: In Oregon, you can use your local election clerk’s office for your mailing address. Because Oregon is a state that votes by mail, anyone using that address will need to go to the office to pick up their ballot.
  6. Pennsylvania: Each county's voter registrar can decide to let a person to register to vote if that individual lives in a shelter or on the streets. They can also decide to allow homeless people to register this way for the "mailing address" section of the form. 
  7. Texas: If a homeless person is able to receive mail at the residence address provided (for example, the address of a shelter), a mailing address is not needed (such as the  post office general delivery).
  8. West Virginia: A residential address is required, but this can be a PO Box, shelter address, your next-of-kin’s address, or a description of the geographical area where you usually stay (like a park). 

How Long Do I Have to Live at the Address I Gave on My Voter Registration Form? This varies by state. In most states, you will have to have been at the residence/address you are giving for a certain number of days before Election Day. In many states, the rule is that you should have been residing at or receiving mail at the address on your voter registration for 30 days or more before the Election Day in the state and county you will be voting in. If you're not sure about this, contact your local board of elections or circuit clerk. 

Does it Cost Any Money to Register to Vote? NO! It's free, and if you need an ID card, we have links to help you get a free ID on our website, too! Just visit https://10minutesaday.org/voting-info/w.10MinutesADay.org/votinginfo.  

Where Can I Get a Form to Register to Vote? If you have internet access, there are lots of great websites that will direct you to the form you need. If you need to print one out and don't have a printer, many public libraries will print out the forms you need at little to no charge. Voter registration forms are available at post offices, driver's license/state ID offices, Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Department of Public Safety (DPS) offices, many social service agencies, and your city or county elections offices. Some fire stations or police departments may also have the forms you will need. If you'd like to get a voter registration form on the web, visit any of these websites:

  • Voter Pal: This application lets you register to vote using just your phone & by scanning a photo ID that is accepted by your state.  This means you won't have to worry about printing out forms or going somewhere in person. For more information or to download the app, visit your Android or Apple app stores. You can also download it from their website, https://www.voterpal.org/.  
  • TurboVote: The application helps you register to vote, get an absentee ballot if needed, and reminds you when upcoming elections are. To get it, visit: https://turbovote.org/?ref=producthunt
  • Voter Participation: This website helps you register to vote online. https://www.voterparticipation.org/register-to-vote-today/

Do I Need an ID to Register or to Vote? This one varies by state, but in several cases, you will not need one. Sometimes, you can just provide part or all of your social security number or another identification number (like one from a driver's license or state ID). If you do need an ID, there are places that will help you get one. We have them listed at: https://10minutesaday.org/voting-info/w.10MinutesADay.org/votinginfo.  Many states will give people a free voting ID card that you can use. Also, if you still need help, try contacting: info@voteriders.org or calling 844-338-8743. That will connect you with VoteRiders, and organization that helps provide information about what IDs you may need and that may be able to help you get an ID at no cost. 

Need More Information? Visit the National Coalition for the Homeless--They have a great project called, "You Don't Need A Home to Vote," and you can find it here: http://nationalhomeless.org/campaigns/voting/

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