Voter Registration & Voting during a Pandemic: August 4 Primary Election Edition

Recording of Voter Registration mini-training at June 16, 2020 Membership Meeting

Help people who you work with register and vote in the August 4 primary, and prepare for the November 3, 2020 General Election! This blog post is supplemental to the Coalition’s Guide to voting for people who are homeless and unstably housed.

The Coalition has been helping people who are experiencing homelessness register to vote and vote for over 11 years. We want to make sure that folks know that their voices matter and are important, and that You Don’t Need a House to Vote! This year our August Primary Election on Tuesday, August 4 includes voting on Federal Congressional Representatives, State Governor, Lieutenant Governor and other leadership positions, and State Senators and Representatives. The top two from each of those races will be on the November General Election ballot, along with, of course, the Presidential Election. 

The Coalition does voter registration and education work because:

  • We want to end homelessness and to do that we need to build political power. Voting is fundamental to political power. You will help with this.
  • We want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, want to help people who don’t have a home know that they can vote.  
  • We need to spread the word about Voting Rights Restoration for people with felony convictions.

Due to COVID-19, this summer we are unable to send our volunteers out to help register voters (typically we sent trained volunteers to day and hygiene centers and meal programs), so we want to make sure that service providers have the tools you need to support people you work with in registering to vote, updating their voter registration, and voting. 

As a reminder, it is completely okay and legal for 501c3 nonprofits to help people register to vote, and provide education about the mechanics of how voting works. It is even okay to walk someone through their ballot, as long as you are helping them understand what the ballot is asking them to do, and not influencing how they vote in any way. 501c3 nonprofits are not allowed to tell someone how to vote on political (i.e. candidate) races, and if you are helping someone register or vote, you should never tell them who you are voting for. Nonprofits can endorse ballot measures/issues. 

View a recording of Hillary presenting this information at our July 16, 2020 membership meeting below (slides here) and see important information and materials here.

Email vote@homelessinfo.org for this poster

Materials to use while engaging voters:

  • Coalition’s Guide to voting for people who are homeless and unstably housed: Online version, PDF version
    • More information about these eligibility criteria and Voting Rights for people with felony convictions.
    • Addresses – how to fill out a form if someone doesn’t have a traditional residential address
    • See tips in this PowerPoint from our July 16, 2020 meeting as well!
  • Posters – email vote@homelessinfo.org for a personalized poster!
  • ACLU Trifold with information about Voting Rights for people with felony convictions: Download here

How to register & deadlines for voter registration for the Tuesday, August 4 Primary Election

Voting in the August 4 Primary Election: How to return a ballot

Ballots were mailed out on July 15! If someone hasn’t received their ballot by Tuesday, July 21, call King County Elections: (206) 296-8683.
Voter Pamphlet information: Non-partisan voter guides sent by County to each residence, some providers. If you need some, call Elections, or view online: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/elections/how-to-vote/voters-pamphlet.aspx

  • Use a Ballot Drop Box: Turn ballot in by 8 p.m. on election day to a drop box near you. Locations: (www.tinyurl.com/KCBallotDropBoxes)
  • Mail your ballot: no stamp needed! Put your ballot in any mailbox. Make sure that it will be postmarked by 5 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Vote Center: Go to a vote center for assistance voting in-person
  • For questions related to voting, call King County Elections: (206) 296-8683 or visit www.kingcounty.gov/vote

Vote Centers for August 4, 2020 Primary Election

Vote centers are available to register new voters, update current voter records, obtain a voter registration card and to provide assistance to voters who need help completing their ballot. Trained staff and specialized equipment are available to
help voters with disabilities cast a private, independent ballot.
Link to learn more about vote centers: https://bit.ly/kcvotecenters

COVID-19 and Vote Centers: Those who do come to a Vote Center in person will be required to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth. Vote Centers will have curbside assistance and assistance for people who don’t have cars. If you have questions about what to expect when you arrive at a vote center, call King County Elections: (206) 296-8683.

Renton – King County Elections HQ

  • Address: 919 SW Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057
  • Hours:
    • Weekdays, July 15 – 24, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    • Weekdays, July 27 – August 3, 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, August 1, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • Election Day, August 4, 8:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Seattle – CenturyLink Field

  • Address: 800 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134
  • Hours:
    • Saturday, August 1, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • Monday, August 3, 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    • Election Day, August 4, 8:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

July 16, 2020 Coalition Membership Meeting

Recording of July 16, 2020 Coalition Member Meeting

Statewide Eviction Moratorium

  • The temporary statewide moratorium on evictions is set to expire August 1, which if not extended will put thousands in our community at risk of homelessness.Thank you Edmund Witter for explaining the eviction moratorium and sharing tips for service providers with clients involved in the eviction process, you can find a copy of his presentation here. And thank you Michele Thomas for sharing advocacy efforts underway to protect renters.

JumpStart Seattle Advocacy Update

  • Coalition Executive Director Alison Eisinger helped us celebrate the passage of JumpStart Seattle tax legislation and discussed the active conversation around the JumpStart Spending plan (which will be voted on very soon.. This legislation will “raise over $214 million per year in progressive revenue to respond to the immediate COVID crisis and focus on Seattle’s long-term economic revitalization and resiliency by investing in affordable housing and essential city services.”

Seattle Budget Advocacy

  • Alison also talked about the City Council’s current work on the 2020 balancing budget and previewed the fall budget process (click here for a schedule of upcoming meetings). The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness has signed on to the Decriminalize Seattle priorities to defund the SPD by at least 50%, reallocate those funds to community led health and safety systems, and release protesters arrested during this uprising without charges.
    • Defund SPD teach-in recording: Learn more about efforts to defund SPD and reinvest in community-based and led responses to build health and safety.

Voter registration and voting during COVID-19

  • Click here for a blog post with the slides that Hillary shared and information covered about how to help people register online, via paper form, and in person at Vote Centers. Share this with people you work with, and email vote@homelessinfo.org if you plan to help folks register to vote – we truly hope you will!

Financial Empowerment Workshop: Tools for Homeless Service Providers

Thursday, July 30 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m: Click here to register.

Thank you to Donna O’Connor, Stephanie Page and Emily Goodright for previewing this upcoming free training opportunity. This training will be centered around the Your Money Your Goals toolkit, and will include topics such as how to navigate a consumer credit report, guidance on earning income while receiving public assistance, introduction to the idea of cash flow and tips on accessible banking services.

Coalition Community Resource Updates:

2020 Census is continuing now through October 31, those without a traditional home address will be counted through Service Based Enumeration from September 22 to September 24, click here for more information.  When in Doubt, Count. You don’t need to wait until September to help your clients fill out the Census. The form can be completed one of two ways:

  • Onlinehttps://2020census.gov
  • Households would have had a Census ID mailed to them, but if someone does not have one because they don’t have a residential location or they no longer have the code, they can say that they don’t have a Census ID and still fill out the census
  • There will be a check box for “I do not have a street address” and then a question asking if someone was experiencing homelessness on April 1, 2020. After that people can provide a description of where they were staying, or a city.
  • Phone: 844-330-2020 – language support available in other languages – help someone find their language number to call by going to 2020census.gov and clicking How to Respond, or go to https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html

Pandemic EBT program for families with children who qualify for reduce price school meals can be applied for now through August 31. Check out this recorded training video and associated materials for more information.

Seattle Public Library Restrooms: Thanks to advocacy from Coalition members and allies, Seattle Public Libraries have partially re-opened their restroom facilities for public use.  At five locations (Downtown, Ballard, Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill and University District). Restrooms at these branches are open 10 am to 6 pm every day. Thank you to our members and partners who join us to reinforce the urgent need to open public buildings so that people have access to bathrooms, sinks with soap and running water, and clean drinking water during the pandemic.

City of Seattle Mobile Shower Trailers: Another new hygiene related service is the mobile shower trailer; this is a service provided by the City of Seattle that is currently being staffed by the Millionaire Club. There are two locations to know about:

  • One is a semi-permanent shower installation located by the King Street station at 303 S Jackson St. This is available for use from 10am to 4pm Monday through Friday
  • The second is a mobile trailer that is currently set to serve at two locations: Seattle Center at 305 Harrison St operates Tuesday through Saturday, then this moves to the University Heights Center on Sunday and Monday, also open between 10am to 4pm.
  • Neither of these have a formal intake process, they are open and available to anyone who needs them. Sign-up for showers begins at 8am in the morning, and clients can spend as long as 45 minutes in the facility. They do not offer on-site laundry services. These locations may change going forward, click here to check current details of operation.

King County Access Paratransit: King County Metro Transit has announced that its Access Paratransit service is now a temporary option for riders with disabilities who can no longer reach their essential destinations through traditional service, even for riders who are not currently certified for Access

Coalition Member Updates

Summertime Childcare Assistance: Alex Barbaria with Child Care Resources asked to share an update on childcare assistance. Child Care Resources can help families navigate the often confusing childcare systems in King County. Check out this flyer for more details on how to apply (Spanish version here)

Mockingbird Society Annual Summit: Thank you to Bekah Manikowski and Orion Olson from The Mockingbird Society for previewing their upcoming Youth Leadership Summit and the housing related priorities that will be discussed this year.

Healthcare for the Homeless Network: Thank you to Michael Hall-Young for sharing some updated guidance on face coverings and social distancing. You can find a wealth of resources for homeless service providers by checking out the Healthcare for the Homeless website. If you have any thoughts/feedback on the materials, email Michael.

Farewell and Thank You to Hillary: Our meeting ended on a bittersweet note as we bid farewell to longtime Coalition staff member Hillary Coleman. After six years of building community and advocating for justice, Hillary is moving on to graduate school at UW Evans School of Public Policy and Governance to purse a Master of Public Administration. We invite you to add a note of appreciation to this virtual Kudoboard as a way of saying thank you for all the incredible work she has given our community.

We hope to see you on Thursday August 20 at 9 a.m. for our August membership meeting, click here to register.