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This blog is dedicated to distribute current information about the Coalition for the Homeless in Cleveland or poverty or the state of homelessness. Entries are written by board or staff of the Coalition. The opinions contained in this blog reflect the views of the author of the post. This blog features information on shelters, affordable housing, profiles, statistics, trends, and upcoming events relating to homelessness. We welcome comments, and will remove offensive or inappropriate messages. All postings are signed by the author.

Homeless Voting
Thursday
Jul212016

United State of Voting Forum

 “Voting is how we demonstrate our power…and we have an equal opportunity, or should to express that power”- Julie Fernandes, Advocacy Director, Open Society Foundations.

The "United State of Voting," a voting rights town hall meeting, was hosted by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge at Cleveland State University on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.  The town hall style forum emphasized both the importance of understanding the historical context of voting-and the importance of voting in communities across the nation. The matter is especially timely, with the November election quickly approaching-what will be the most “consequential election” of our lifetimes-a sentiment shared by both the panel, specifically Congressman James Clyburn (SC-6), and audience members alike.

The discussion began with a conversation about Golden Week, something, that as of late is still being discussed by the courts. Golden Week allows for a week of in-person voting at the same time of registration-a tool that has been used primarily by minority communities, and made it possible for approximately 60,000 voters to cast their ballots in the 2008 General Election and approximately 80,000 ballots to be cast in the 2012 General Election (MSNBC). This same law that is currently before the courts would also reduce the number of days the Board of Elections is open for early in-person voting from 35 days to just 28 days.

The argument that “Golden Week” and reducing the number of days for early in-person voting prior to an election, was not seen by the panel as an effective way to reduce voter fraud (the states reasoning behind the appeal after the district court ruling, although illegal voting/fraud represents just 0.02% of registered voters), but instead, a continued addition to the list of restrictions and hardships that are being put in place to make it more difficult to vote (MSNBC). These strategies are in direct opposition with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, specifically section 2 and in direct violation with the 14th Amendment-which states; “ equal protection under law” (U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment).

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was implemented in order to enforce the 15th Amendment-which identified; “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (United States Constitution, 15th Amendment). Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), it has both been amended and reauthorized by congress many times-the most recent of which took place in 2006. However, even with such legislation in place, panelists stated with grave concern the Supreme Court Case, (The Shelby County v. Holder decision), in 2013 and explained how the decision to dismantle Section 4 of the VRA has undermined the very premise of voting being a right, and instead reframes the discussion to voting being a privilege.

Section 4 states that states and local governments with histories of discrimination must go to the federal government in order to obtain approval if the state or municipality wishes to change voting policies. The 5-4 decision, has made it possible for states and local governments to implement restrictive policies that negatively impact minority and low-income voters. From I.D. laws to purge processes- there has been and will continue to be a devastating impact on vulnerable populations. Here is a list of the 17 states that will have new restrictions that will be in place for the 2016 election or have been tightened (Brennan Center for Justice):

  • Alabama:  a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2014). Proof of citizenship is now required when registering to vote using the national form (2016).
  • Arizona: new legislation in place to limit mail-in ballot collection. Now, unless you are a direct family member, caregiver or postal service employee-it is now a felony to collect and turn-in another person’s ballot (2016).
  • Georgia: Proof of citizenship is now required when registering to vote using the national form (2016). Early in-person voting was reduced from 45 days to 21 days (2011).
  • Indiana: legislation now in place to allow an additional official at polling locations to inforce I.D. requirements (2014).
  • Kansas: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2012). Proof of citizenship is now required when registering to vote using the federal form (2016).
  • Mississippi:  a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2011).
  • Nebraska:  reduced days for early voting (2014).
  • New Hampshire: Voter without acceptable forms of I.D. must take a photo at the polls and attach it to an affidavit (2015).
  • North CarolinaSame day registration was eliminated, as was early registration for 16-and -17-year-olds (2014), photo I.D. now required to vote (2016).
  • North Dakota: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2015).
  • Ohio: Reduced early voting period/elimination of Golden Week (before the courts after state appealed the decision that the new restrictions were unconstitutional), absentee and provisional ballot rules changed (2014).
  • Rhode Island: Voter without acceptable forms of I.D. must take a photo at the polls and attach it to an affidavit (2014).
  • South Carolina: photo I.D. is requested to vote.
  • TennesseePhoto I.D. is required to vote, a reduced early voting period, and proof of citizenship is now required to register to vote (2014).
  • Texas: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2014), and voting registration drive restrictions went into effect in 2011.
  • Virginia: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2014), and there are also strict rules on third-party voter registration that were implemented in 2013.
  • Wisconsin: a photo I.D. is now required to vote (2015), reduced time period for early voting (2014), and implemented restrictions on individual registration (2011).

While the most important takeaway from this event is the distinction that voting is a right, not a privilege-as the VRA and constitution suggest. The panel reiterated the fact that there is still more we can do to change this wave of restrictive voting laws in our country, the first being to start the conversation. In this political climate you often hear, “how do I chose between the lesser of two evils” and instead of showing up to vote, these individuals opt-out. However, as Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS-2) stated “on November 9th we will have a new president, whether you vote or not” and we need to continue to work together to prevent the voter apathy and exhaustion that has resulted as a byproduct of a very tumultuous election year and panel members drew a clear parallel to the recent events happening in Europe with Brexit-explaining that this is what happens when people opt-out of the process.

The frustration is clear, but there are a variety of ways we can continue to fight for equitable voting practices. The first being, restoring Section 4 of the VRA. The second is to continue voter registration drives, and continue with community education-this will be a key component if we wish to increase voter turnout. If you do see violations against people’s right to vote, you can report those violations to the following national hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE, a national coalition of voting rights advocates working to “advance and defend the right to vote”.

More Information on the above topics can be found below:

For new voting restrictions and an interactive map:

 http://www.brennancenter.org/voting-restrictions-first-time-2016

Voting restrictions in Ohio:

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/ohio-battle-rages-over-access-voting

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/inside-purge-tens-thousands-ohio-voters/story?id=39586417

More information on the Shelby County v. Holder Decision:

https://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/Shelby_Cnty_v_Holder_No_1296_2013_BL_167707_US_June_25_2013_Court?1466986835

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/shelby-county-v-holder/

Also, we have a ton of information on our website by clicking on the "Vote" button on the side of the website. 

by Katy Carpenter

All opinions represent the views of those who sign the entry

Wednesday
Jul202016

Voting Training Coming Up

Cleveland Votes will be host a training on Thursday July 28, 2016. Registration and refreshments start at 8:30 a.m., followed by a training session from 9 a.m until 11:30 a.m. The event will be held at ADAMHS, 2012 West 25th Street, 6th Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44113 (parking is located in rear; enter on W. 26th and Lorain Avenue or use metered parking around the building).  We signed up and hope that you will also.  Learn what your agency can do during the upcoming Presidential election. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Wednesday
Jul202016

Reflection on March to End Poverty

On Monday, July 18, the opening day of the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland, somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 people gathered at East 45th and Superior for a rally and march to "End Poverty Now." The march was put together by Organize Ohio and was joined by a wide variety of groups, from staff at NEOCH to women’s health advocates to revolutionary communists to anarchists. At the rally before the march, people handed out flyers about events happening later in the week and talked to people about their group’s message. Other groups went around offering food and water to those attending.

Women from Codepink (pictured here), a grassroots organization founded to oppose the Iraq War, danced around in head-to-toe pink ball gowns and held satirical signs such as “Minimum Wage: $0” and “Tax the Poor”. Another woman from NARAL Pro-Choice America walked around on stilts for the entirety of the rally and the march! On the rally stage, several activists from around the country spoke and inspired the crowd, and there were also performers singing songs of struggle and social justice. Especially exciting was a performance by Prophets of Rage, a band made up of Rage Against the Machine's bassist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello, and drummer Brad Wilk, with Public Enemy's Chuck D and DJ Lord and Cypress Hill's B-Real. They gave a high-energy performance that pumped up the crowd and got us ready to march.  There were also women facing deportation and those struggling with poverty in America.

After the performance we took to the streets, heading downtown towards the convention under the hot 85-degree sun. As we walked, most of us held signs against poverty, racism, sexism, and of course Trump – some especially memorable ones were “Trump Hates Kittens”, “Lizard People for Trump”, and “Deport Trump’s Hate & His Wife”. There were also signs opposing both major political parties.  Many groups led chants, the Fight for 15 group seeking an increase in the minimum wage chanting “What do we want? 15! If we don’t get it? Shut it down!” Also heard were the familiar cries of “No justice, no peace” and “Black Lives Matter.” A few times during the march it seemed that different groups were competing with each other in their chants – the Fight for 15ers shouting over the communists, the communists shouting over the socialists, etc.

Each time things smoothed over peacefully, and in general the tension within the march itself was minimal. Although there were disparate political views represented, we were all bound together by our shared belief in the necessity of ending poverty. And despite the fact that a group of open-carrying West Ohio Minutemen were marching only blocks away, we luckily avoided running into any such groups. Throughout the whole route we were followed by and surrounded on both sides by police officers on bikes. Thankfully there were no issues between officers and protestors, and everything remained peaceful. By the time we reached Chester Commons, most of us were sweaty, sunburnt and exhausted. A few people stayed around to speak to reporters and give a few more chants, but most of the group dispersed.

Ultimately, I think that the march was a success and I am encouraged by the media coverage that I’ve seen. Showing people that there is an alternative narrative to many of the public discussions on poverty is important, and the more people who can hear the message that there are solutions to poverty the better. I believe we are all extremely relieved that everything remained peaceful, especially considering the tension that our country is currently experiencing. Hopefully we can continue to push the message of ending poverty onto both the Republican and Democratic parties in a peaceful way moving forward.

by Megan Shanklin

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Saturday
Jul162016

NEOCH Media Regarding RNC

Friday
Jul152016

New Paper Published Today

WELCOME TO CLEVELAND

The new Street Chronicle is on the streets and ready for sale to the delegates in town for the RNC.  There are a couple of stories about the Community Women's Shelter and the hearing that took place in May.  There is an interview that Abby did with a transgender woman who happened to stay in both the women's and men's shelter.   Abby the intern also wrote about the important new guidelines for apartment owners issues with the re-entry population. 

Most of the vendors wrote stories for this issue.  Some were talking about the NBA championship which is new to Cleveland.  Others talked about their experience of being homeless or coming off the streets and into housing.  We have pictures of the new Public Square.  There are two additional stories from people who became homeless and how they made it off the streets.  You can pick it up at the West Side Market anytime they are open (even with the construction).  We also have vendors in the downtown on a regular basis. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.