Here at SKCCH we are passionate about providing voter registration and information for people experiencing homelessness. SKCCH interns and volunteers spent the last two weeks out in the community providing information and helping people to register. We went to shelters, day centers, and food banks and helped 70 people register to vote or update their address.
Many times we heard people say, “I can’t vote,” and in most cases we were able to respond, yes you can! Although legislation was passed in 2009 that restored voting rights to people with felony convictions, many people are still unaware of their rights. We were able to inform people that as long as they are no longer under D.O.C. supervision, their voting rights are automatically restored. This is the first presidential election since that legislation passed and people were excited to register once they heard they could!
One man came through the line to get a sandwich for lunch and we asked if he was registered to vote and he told us he was not registered because he couldn’t register to vote. We asked him why and he said that thirty years ago he had committed a felony. We then told him that he could ABSOLUTELY register to vote. At first, he was skeptical, but we explained the new law to him and told him that as long as he was no longer on parole he had the right to vote. Seeing the joy on his face once he found out he could vote was amazing. He told us that he had wanted to vote all his life but he had thought once he committed a felony his voting rights were stripped away for life. We then helped him register, and as he completed the form, his face began to light up; he realized that voting was finally becoming a reality for him and that he would have a voice. He told us as he was leaving that we had made his day and that he couldn’t wait to vote and would definitely be casting his ballot in November.
This is a perfect example of how important it is to give everyone who has the right to vote a voice in the democratic process. This story highlights why voter registration is so important and why we believe in making sure EVERY VOTER COUNTS.
A big thank you goes out to our wonderful volunteers, especially Molly Matter who went to three different sites and registered 24 people! We’d also like to thank the ACLU of Washington for their excellent voting rights restoration materials, and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance for their help with publishing our 2012 Homeless Voters’ Information Guide.
click this image to download our Homeless Voters’ Information Guide!