Homeless Woman Secures Her Right to Vote


She Encourages Other Homeless People to Make Their Voices Heard

I feel one of the most valuable rights we have is the voting process. Our voice, our vote.

But, being homeless can bring new challenges to that voting process, that inalienable right that all people are given. Barriers such as what address do you list on the voting application?

After five years of trying to get a voter registration card, I am finally a voting member of society.

right to vote

Vicky with her voting sticker.

It wasn’t easy trying to find an address to vote under. Imagine living in a tent and someone asks you for an address. Or, living in a shelter or hotel where you receive a letter back stating your address is considered a warehouse because five or more people live there. And so, they request another address. If you’re lucky enough to have a P.O. Box, you’re still unable to be a registered voter. That’s because they don’t recognize a P.O. Box a physical address.

How can a homeless person obtain the right to vote when there are so many barriers – the number one barrier being a physical address. I am lucky because my church lets me use their address allowing me to take part in elections now. Me, a homeless person, voting! Yes! Homeless people want to vote and be a part of their communities.

Changes to Voter Registration

Most states require a mailing address so voter ID cards and election material can be sent to those registered. Addresses can be a local advocacy organization, shelter, outreach center or anywhere willing to accept mail for people wishing to register.

Some states have removed the residency barrier making it easier for homeless people to register and vote. Arizona and Nebraska allow homeless people to use the county courthouses or county clerk’s offices as their mailing address.

According to the Tennessee Secretary of State: to vote in Tennessee, a person doesn’t have to live in a building. Instead, a homeless person must describe where they usually stay or return to when absent. This location may be the address of a shelter where the person stays or frequents. Or it may be the description of a street corner where the person may often rest. A physical description of the location must be given so the election commission knows which voting precinct to place the person.

All citizens including homeless people should have the right to vote. It gives one dignity and self-esteem to be part of the political process and creates a sense of community. Plus, our voices must be heard so we can bring attention to much needed changes to housing and poverty issues. To make changes, we must take active roles in the communities we call home – that includes voting!


Vicky Batcher

Vicky Batcher

  

Vicky Batcher is a writer and a vendor for The Contributor street paper out of Nashville, TN. Shes 56 a mother of twin boys and resides in a questionable RV. She's been homeless for 7 years.

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