“As we have seen time and time again, homeless voters and other marginalized voters have to fight to make their voices heard in the electoral process,” said Chris Knestrick, Executive Director at NEOCH. “Today’s settlement not only provides a backstop to help ensure that those purged still have a way to exercise their fundamental right to vote, but it also requires that the Secretary continue to look for information beyond what is maintained by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to verify a voter’s continued eligibility. This is essential to prevent already marginalized voters from being disproportionately removed from the registration rolls.”Read more
Event at Ohio’s Largest Shelter to Urge Participation
The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless is hosting an event on Tuesday September 23 at 7 p.m. at 2100 Lakeside Shelter to rally homeless voters to register and then to vote this fall. Those living in a shelter or on the streets still have a right to participate in electing the people who will provide leadership out of this housing crisis. September 23 is National Voter Registration Day and to celebrate we are bringing politicians and community leaders together to motivate homeless people to participate.
NEOCH is partnering with Ohio’s largest shelter, LMM’s 2100 Lakeside Shelter, to work to register everyone in the building on Tuesday evening. We will have volunteers on site to assist homeless people with changing their address or registering to vote in the upcoming November election. “Of all the people in our community, people struggling with housing and regular income need to add their voice to the democratic process,” said Ken Payton of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. Payton is staff at the agency working every day to register homeless people to vote by going to shelters and calling shelter directors urging them to help their clients to vote.
We will have Natoya Walker Minor representing the Mayor of Cleveland and tentatively will have State Representative Mike Foley and County Councilmember Dale Miller saying a few words at the event on September 23 at 7 p.m. at 2100 Lakeside Shelter. We hope to have a Cleveland City Council member talking about how important it is to vote. We hope that these community leaders will talk about how politicians pay attention to communities that vote.
We have seen many changes in voting laws over the last year and many voters may be confused about their options. NEOCH urges homeless people to utilize early in person voting as the best option. We are especially pleased that a federal judge has restored the week in which homeless people can vote and change their registration at the same time. We are also encouraged that we will have evening and weekend hours when it is convenient for the many full time workers living in the shelters to not have to miss work in order to vote. NEOCH is working to register homeless people and will help those living in the shelters or on the streets over to the Board of Elections to vote.
Click on the Vote Button on the NEOCH website for more information on homeless voting.
In another blow to the current Secretary of State's effort to limit voter access to the polls, the Federal Courts have made permanent the rules to keep the early voting hours open for the last three days before the November Election. This goes back to the 2012 and the Obama for America lawsuit against the State of Ohio to provide equal access to early voting for all voters. The State legislature tried to give access to active military to vote on the last three days before the election but not the other voters in Ohio. This disparity in the rules was found by Judge Peter Economus to be a violation of federal law.
This ruling will force Secretary of State Husted to set uniform hours on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday hours for early in-person voting. This does not settle the lawsuit filed earlier this year by the ACLU and the NAACP regarding Sunday voting, evening hours and Golden Week. It also does not provide a level playing field for all voters in Ohio. Those living in heavily populated areas of the State will have to stuff themselves into the local boards of election offices because they will have the same hours as the small counties with only a few thousand people who need to vote. We hope that this is a first step in the complete repudiation of all efforts to limit access to the ballot box in Ohio and other states.
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We had long lines, but at least we were not as bad as Florida. Ohioans had to wait for hours on the final weekend of early voting, but not anywhere near as long as Florida. The results were not released locally until 11:05 p.m., but that is better than 11 a.m. four days after the election as they were in Florida. We had a court fight on the day after the election, while Florida will have to settle a number of lawsuits over this election. We have two state representatives in which the races are narrow thin margins of victory, while Florida had two federal races that were not called for four days.
We need real election reform in the United States with a law passed or a series of laws passed or even a Constitutional amendment to make our election fair. Our recommended changes include:
- Elimination of the Electoral College so that the President is elected by national popular vote.
- Elimination of gerrymandering in the creation of legislative districts by removing it from the oversight by any one political party. There should be a law that both political parties including independents must come to a consensus on legislative districts.
- Standards for early voting across the United States as well as military voting and vote by mail provisions.
- There should be standards for registering people to vote including the ability to register to vote on election day.
- There should be free national identification that can be used for people to register to vote.
- No one should have to wait more than one half hour to vote in person, and this should be a national standard with consequences for long waits.
- People should be taxed at a higher rate if they decide not to vote.
- People should be allowed to vote a county wide ballot at any polling place if they do not want to cast a vote for local items or local elected officials.
- Voting should be done in whatever manner yields the most secure ballot with a paper backup and a way to count the ballots quickly.
- Money is not speech. We need public financing of campaigns and guaranteed access by the candidates to the local and national networks. We own the air waves, and they need to be given over to electing our leaders once a year.
More to come
Thanks to Bishop Cosgrove Center, Continue Life, Norma Herr Center, North Point Transitional, Railton House, St. Malachi, Transitional Housing Inc., and Y-Haven that all turned in registration forms last week.
A few voting questions came up over the last week:
1. Most of your clients are already registered to vote, but they most likely need to change their address. If they cannot receive mail at the location they are registered, their mail will go back to the Board of Elections and the board will mark them as inactive. This could result in them voting by provisional ballot—the least attractive option to assure that a vote is counted. If they need to change their address use the same registration form for new voters and those changing their address.
2. If your client wants to vote by mail, which we believe is the best option for homeless people, they need to fill out the vote by mail application and send it to the Board. You can get a copy of the vote by mail from the Cuyahoga Board of Elections or on our website. You can print these out and make copies of these forms for your clients. If you turn these in with the registration you should staple the two forms together so that they do not get separated over at the board of elections.
3. Finally, here are a few more details on training that Ohio Votes is hosting in Cleveland. You can use the link below to sign up your staff for this training. There are CEUs available to social workers. (All of the links are below--for some reason they were not working in the body of this announcement).
Thanks to everyone for the help with this important effort to get everyone registered to vote.
Cleveland Voter Engagement Training Sign Up
NEOCH website on voting: http://www.neoch.org/homeless-voting/
Cuyahoga Board of Elections: http://boe.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/vote-by-mail.aspx
Here is the direct link to the Ohio Votes sign up for voter engagement training http://www.nonprofitvote.org/voter-engagement-training-cleveland.html
Thanks to Continue Life, Salvation Army PASS, Zelma George, Joseph’s Home, Hitchcock Center, St. Malachi Center, Salvation Army Railton, and Y-Haven for participating in the voter registration drive last week. We appreciate all their help in getting homeless people to participate in democracy.
We will be picking up from Cosgrove, Lakeside and Central Intake, Harbor Light, Norma Herr, Transitional Housing, and Railton House this Friday 8/3. If you have completed forms that you would also like us to pick up at a local homeless service provider please give us a call at NEOCH at 216/432-0540 to schedule a pick up. You are free to mail the forms directly to the board, but remember that they have to be sent within 7 or 8 days of signing the form. You can’t really save them all up until you have a large number.
We would also like to recognize all the permanent supportive housing projects in the community managed by EDEN and MHS, which are encouraging all their residents to register to vote. They are providing a blank form to everyone living in their seven buildings. This is a big step in helping people who have been long detached from society. We appreciate all the help.
NEOCH has joined the OhioVotes Coalition that is overseen by the State Coalition (COHHIO). They are doing a webinar on Thursday that you are welcome to participate in. Contact Ohio Votes at 614-280-1984 for more information. They will send you an e-mail for how to join the webinar.
Finally, on Monday the lawyers for the Coalition along with our co-plaintiffs were in federal court in Columbus working to protect the rights of homeless people especially with identification to vote. We will keep the community informed about the progress of this lawsuit. We are trying to defend our settlement from 2010 with the State of Ohio. We are working to assure that if a person shows up to vote and is told to go to the wrong precinct by a poll worker their vote should still count.
216/432-0540 ext 100