Today kicks off the annual week of registration events specifically aimed at registering voters who are unstably housed.
See the You Don’t Need a Home to VoteVoting Rights Manual for more on registration, getting out the vote, and knowing your rights as a voter with unstable housing. There is also more information on this page.
For those who work for a service agency:YES! You can register your residents/clients to vote. You are not allowed to show preference in any way for a particular candidate or party, but registering voters is a non-partisan activity that supports our democracy. Any 501c3 non-profit is welcome to register their community members to vote!
For those who might be unhoused:YES! You do not Need a Home to Vote! See the manual, or this chart of state regulations, for specifics on how you can register and vote without a permanent residence.
Originally published Sept. 27, 2017 This year marks the 25th anniversary of the National Coalition for the Homeless’ “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote” campaign. What was a problem in 1992 is still a problem today – homeless individuals vote at a lower rate than non-homeless individuals, even though homelessness does not disqualify anyone from voting. In fact, voting allows un-housed men and women to have a say in government by electing leaders who will advocate for the rights and well being of the homeless community.
Registering to vote can feel like an overwhelming task, and a lack of typical forms of identification as well as the reality of living without an address can discourage homeless individuals from trying to register. In order to support houseless people, the National Coalition for the homeless has put together two resources – a 2017 National Guide to Voter Registration Guidelines (an update to our 2016 “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote” guide) and, for people living in the D.C. Metro area (Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.), an in-depth Guide to DMV Voter Registration Cards.
If you are someone who is currently experiencing homelessness, please contact one of your local election officials who would be happy to answer any of your questions about the registration process. Voting is such an important way to make your voice heard!
If you are a friend of the homeless, please make sure you vote too and consider leaders who will support the homeless community! Also, if you have relationships with any un-housed men or women in your community, offer to help them register to vote!
The National Coalition for the Homeless does not support or oppose any political candidate or party. Our informational materials are strictly for educational purposes and suggest no endorsement, bias, or preference.
by Michael Stoops
In the early 1980’s there were successful lawsuits on the right of homeless people to vote in New York City, Philadelphia, Santa Barbara and Washington, DC.
Many groups worked successfully in getting the National Voter Registration Act (commonly referred to as the motor voter law) passed in Congress and signed into law in 1993 by President Clinton. This required that welfare, motor vehicle divisions, and other state agencies to make voter registration forms available to their clients.
In 1992, the National Coalition for the Homeless launched You Don’t Need A Home to Vote voting rights campaign. The name was chosen because we wanted to get the word out to homeless people that they can vote, even if they lacked a home. And we wanted candidates for office to know that homeless people vote .
The National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored the You Don’t Need a Home to Vote project every election cycle, holding National Homeless and Low Income Voter Registration Week to encourage voter registration and education (Sept. 26 – Oct. 2, 2010). Bills have been introduced and passed in a dozen states, re-affirming and clarifying the right of homeless people to vote.
Many states still require a traditional mailing address and a few have passed laws requiring a government issued photo ID in order to register. We’ve tracked these rules and have listed them in our Voting Rights Manual .
Please join NCH this week in making voter registration available to homeless and low income individuals in your community. Check out our website for materials and more information on how you can help our democracy.