Homeless getting vote heard in this election

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - For homeless voters, the road to pulling a lever in a voting booth can be difficult.  We're learning the biggest obstacle for a homeless citizen is providing proof of where he or she lives, but tonight some say that shouldn't discourage anyone from voting.

"I think just because your homeless doesn't mean your helpless," said Pat Clifford with the Drop-In Center.

It's an issue you rarely hear about. The homeless voting.

"When you're dealing with a situation where you don't know where your bed is, where you're going to lay your head, your stomach is hungry, you want to go somewhere to eat," said a homeless man named John.

With all of that said, you'd think voting would be the last thing on some of these people's minds, but this historic presidential election has every walk of life casting a ballot.

"The importance of voting to me is it expresses who you want to be in office," said John, "It expresses that you have some type of power, it's like you do have a say so in something that is going on in the government."

At the Hamilton County Board of Elections, they're prepared for every voice to be heard, and they're also careful to make it count.

"Homeless people do have the right to vote, and we do have several homeless people in Hamilton County registered, typically they register at the Drop-In Center," said John Williams with the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

So what happens when the homeless don't call a drop-in center home?

"Technically, you could actually register to vote from a park bench in a park or something like that," said Williams. "Also the key point is that it's a habitation for what it's worth. When you leave you have the intent to return."

Homeless people we spoke with say they're optimistic their voice will help to make a big difference in a very uncertain time for all of us.

"You know there are so many programs out here for us to help us," said John. "That's what I appreciate in itself, so voting is important."

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless says between 1,300 and 1,500 people are homeless every night in Cincinnati.