The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless spent a great deal of time in 2012 assisting homeless people to vote. We worked on our identification lawsuit to assure that a homeless person who shows up to vote in person on Election Day without identification, they should have the opportunity to vote. We also drove hundreds over to the Board of Elections early to vote. We registered thousands within the shelters between the shelter staff and NEOCH staff and volunteers. We also physically took over 200 people to vote and registered over 300. We are championing how many people of the 300 we registered actually voted (93%!!!!).
We released the report on voting a month ago on our website and we have sent this press release around in an attempt to dispel the myths that homeless people do not care and do not vote. We call attention to the remarkable number of our voters who voted on the weekend before the Election in November (77%). We have sent the report around to County and City officials. We have circulated it among the shelters. We have met with Board of Elections officials to plan for the 2014 statewide election. We are working on a procedure for educating people at the front door of the shelters and provide them the form to change their address when they leave the shelter.
Bottom line is homeless people want to be a part of our democracy. They realize that they need to participate because the decisions made in Columbus and Washington will have a dramatic effect on their housing, availability of jobs, or access to Medicaid. We would love to have every shelter in the country spend some time securing access to voting. It only makes sense that when a person loses their housing and shows up at a shelter they probably need to notify the Board of Elections that they will have to change their address.
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