Sunday, August 20, 2006

Voting and Homeless People

Disenfranchised from Democracy

There was a good letter to the editor in yesterday's Columbus Dogpatch from Bill Faith regarding the potential problems faced by homeless people in the upcoming election. Bill Faith is the director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and they just started a new project on voting for Ohio. Remember that Bill is coming to Cleveland to speak about state issues on September 11 (see previous post). The new ID law is going to be a disaster for poor people and especially homeless people. It is already a problem to get a migratory population to the right polling place to take part in democracy. Now, we have the complication of mandatory identification or a whole series of other forms of identification tied to housing before a person is entitled to cast a ballot.

The big issue is that each County seems to have their own interpretation of the ID law. Some say that if the ID does match the registration then the person must vote with a provisional ballot. Some say that the ID is just to verify that the person is who they say that they are. Poll workers have different ideas and Boards of Elections are also not consistent. I do not know how Cuyahoga County is going to come down on the issue, but based on the May primary I think that we are in trouble locally.

My Mom who just received an award for working every single election for more than 30 years has decided to sit this election out. She decided that based on the primary where it took hours to close down the new electronic machines and the lack of direction by the State over the new rules, she could not be a part of this pending train wreck. She lives in a suburb of Columbus where today's editorial cartoon suggested that they bring in Jimmy Carter to Ohio to supervise the elections.

The Coalition is going to try to get clarity over the law with the local board of elections over the next month. We will also have observers at some of the polling places that we anticipate problems. If you would like to volunteer, please call Brian at 216/432-0540. Our democracy and this election are both too important to leave an entire population out of the process.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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