Homeless People Do Vote
We are working on compiling the numbers from the last election, and so we are looking at homeless participation in the 2012 Presidential election. We had a great response to voting by those sleeping in the shelters and were newly registered. The NEOCH staff signed up 322 voters from July through October, and 93% of those we registered actually voted. This is a powerful number proving that homeless people do in fact vote. To show how important it is to have as many early voting hours as possible only 2 out of the 322 people voted on Election Day. Nearly all the homeless individuals voted by mail or at the Board of Elections in Cuyahoga County.
These were the registration cards that NEOCH staff handled. We are also looking at the voters registered by the shelters in Cleveland. We will have those numbers in the next week. These individuals who have lost their housing, their jobs and most of their material possessions took the time to register to vote and then they showed up to be counted. Almost everyone who registered while staying in a shelter then showed up to vote.
We took a Vietnam era who had never voted in the past over to vote during Golden week when his buddies at the VA Hospital Transitional shelter were also going.
We took a woman who got into housing between the registration deadline and Election Day. We took her over to vote on Election Day and she was terrified that she would not be allowed to vote. She had never voted before and she was a devout Muslim who wore a vail. She was worried because her ID did not have her new address and she did not want to take off her vail to prove her identity. The poll workers were great and kind to her and she had no problem voting. She started crying on the way back to her apartment.
We had a voter who cast an early vote at the Board of Elections and almost talked himself out of being able to vote. He had become homeless in between the time he had registered and when he was voting. He kept trying to clarify with the poll worker that he was homeless now and so was not at that address. He finally voted after not having voted for years.
We had homeless people who waited in line for 45 minutes on the Sunday before the election to vote, and a woman who made sure that her roommates at the Community Women's Shelter all completed their mail in ballot as soon as they arrived at the shelter.
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