Thursday, October 21, 2010

Homeless People Do Vote

Early voting activities from 2008--staff photo

Homeless Coalition Urges Those Experiencing Homelessness to Vote Early

PRESS RELEASE CLEVELAND OHIO: The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless is organizing homeless people to urge them to vote early at the Board of Elections main location on Euclid Ave. In 2010, NEOCH settled its four year old lawsuit with the State of Ohio over voting procedures especially with regard to the counting of provisional ballots. “We finally reached a settlement with Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner earlier this year that assures clear guidelines are distributed to all 88 Boards of Elections regarding voting procedures for homeless people,” said NEOCH director Brian Davis.

Highlights of the settlement include:

  1. The Secretary will issue a directive to all 88 Boards of Elections that clarifies that homeless people have a right to vote, and that all legitimate ballots must be counted.
  2. Homeless and low income shall not be deprived their right to vote because of poll worker error or because of differing interpretations of the law by local boards.
  3. The settlement spells out specific requirements for counting provisional ballots after election day. Provisional ballots are cast if the individual does not have identification on election day or there is some other issue with their registration when they show up at the polling place. In 2006 and 2008, there were wide disparities in the percentage of provisional ballots accepted as legitimate votes among the 88 counties. This settlement should standardize the counting of provisional ballots so that every county is operating under similar guidelines.
  4. A legitimate registered voter who votes in the correct precinct and has completed the provisional ballot correctly but does not have identification can present the last four digits of his or her social security number and that ballot will be accepted as a legitimate ballot when the provisional ballots are reviewed.
  5. The settlement clarifies why a provisional ballot would not be accepted and therefore not counted as a vote in this and every election through 2013. Just because a person is registered at a shelter or street address, the Board of Elections cannot reject their provisional ballot.

If a homeless person does not have identification, they can vote early at the main office of the Board of Elections. They will only be asked for their last four digits of their social security number of state identification number if they vote early. They will not have to show anyone their ID by voting early. It is for this reason that the Coalition is urging shelter staff to alert their clients of the ease in voting early. “With the change in the County government and the important state election, it is critical that all homeless people vote in 2010,” said NEOCH executive director Brian Davis.

Securing and maintaining identification is difficult and expensive for many homeless individuals. Voting is the great equalizer in the United States. Everyone from the doctors at the Cleveland clinic, the rocket scientists at NASA Glenn Center, and homeless people have a right to cast one ballot to select who will lead this country,” said Davis. The Settlement with the State of Ohio is posted on the NEOCH Website under, and the Coalition is always willing to help anyone in the state with questions or concerns about voting. Early voting ends November 1, 2010.

written by Brian

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