NEOCH Homeless Voting Plan 2016

Here is some basic information for ensuring that your clients participate in the deciding of the leadership in this country by voting. It is critical that no one sits out in the election, especially those in need of housing or a job. It is hard to petition for more services, more funding, and more housing for those who do not vote. If you have any questions please feel free to call Brian Davis from NEOCH at (216) 432-0540.

NEOCH wants to help you register your clients and encourage them to vote.  Call us if you need any help!!!

This document contains updated information with all the changes in the law over the last two years, but things are still up in the air, as several court decisions are being appealed by the Secretary of State. 

Important Dates for 2016:

  • October 12, 2016     First day of early voting in person or by mail
  • October 11, 2016     Last day to register in order to vote in the Federal/State election in Nov.
  • November 7, 2014      Last day to vote early at the Board of Elections and to postmark mailed absentee ballots
  • November 8, 2016     Election day! 
    Polls open from 6:30 AM - 7:30 PM; 7:30 PM deadline to drop off absentee ballots at Board of Elections

Look at the full schedule here

2016 Strategy for Homeless Voting

Voter Registration:  NEOCH wants to help to get everyone who comes to shelter to register to vote.  You can just drop them in the mail to the Board of Elections or call NEOCH and we will pick them up from you and drop the registration forms at the Board offices.  We will work with you to make sure that no person is identified as residing in a particular shelter.  The rules for registration have not changed and we want to offer everyone in shelter the opportunity to vote. Most everyone who shows up for shelter will need to change their address, so we need to make this universal for all the shelters. Help your client check to see if they are registered on the Board of Elections website (if they are registered in Cuyahoga County.) 

Golden Week: Killed by the Federal Appeals Court on August 23. District Court Judge Michael Watson had allowed Golden Week until that was overturned by Federal Appeals Court. This will mean that early voting will not start on 10/12/2016 and go through the Monday before Election day.  This is a great service for people who move frequently and want to take care of both at the same time.  We believe Golden Week is critical for people who move frequently to be able to participate.

Vote By Mail and or Early Voting:   The state agreed to pay for notification of the upcoming election with an opportunity to vote by mail in 2014, but this is not guaranteed for the future. No other group is allowed to mail out early voting applications except the Secretary of State. This is also an easy option for homeless people since they do not have to show ID to vote by mail.  We recommend that everyone living in shelters fill out a vote by mail request to assure that they will be delivered a ballot.  They can use a paper form or they can just request a ballot on the Board’s website They can also request an absentee ballot from the board at the same web address.  The rules for early voting are on the Board website. You can also vote in person at the Board of Elections during the early voting period. 

Election Day Voting:  This is the least attractive method to vote for a homeless person, but many feel that they are not actually participating in democracy unless they go out and vote on Election Day.  They have to be careful that they are voting at the correct precinct.  There are multiple precincts in most polling locations.  If you vote at the wrong precinct and you were not directed to that precinct by a polling official, your ballot will not count.  The homeless individual must bring identification to the polling place to cast a ballot.  The problem is that with the exception of a state ID all the other forms of ID are associated with a place to live (utility bill, telephone bill, etc.).  We are willing to help with rides to polling places on Election Day, and we will provide more information as we get closer.  But just call us if you have a client that needs a ride back to their polling place on Election Day.  

Other activities:  We would be interested in partnering with groups to do a town hall for candidates to meet homeless people in the summer/fall.  We have no problem doing a training for staff/clients about voting, registration or specific issues at any of the shelters or services.  We are always available to talk about voting issues, and have a 20 year history of assisting homeless people to vote.

Bigger issues:  As a board member of the National Coalition for the Homeless, we have to credit Cuyahoga County for being a leader on this issue nationally.  We are one of the only Continuums in the Country that measures voter participation and registration as part of its review.  We have to thank Ruth and Sheri for their work in helping homeless people to remain connected to their community with this effort on voting.  This is a model project that we regularly champion to HUD officials and to other Coalitions around the country to highlight Cuyahoga County.

By Brian Davis