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People often think their vote doesn’t matter. It does.
People often think their vote doesn’t matter. It does.
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September 25, 2018 | Volume 22, No. 8 | Archives
Today is National Voter Registration Day
Voting is a critical part of democracy and civic engagement. Registering to vote—and turning out on Election Day—are key steps toward participating in the decisions that impact our lives. Unfortunately, people experiencing homelessness (and low-income folks in general) often don’t think their vote matters, or they think things won’t ever change. Even worse, politicians reinforce these beliefs by imposing numerous barriers to prevent them from voting. As a result, they vote at much lower rates than those with higher incomes, creating a power imbalance that is evident in nearly all policy decisions.
Non-voting sets up a vicious cycle: politicians are most responsive to engaged voters; when voters aren’t engaged, they don’t get responsive policymakers—and they definitely don’t get policies that are responsive to their needs. The Health Care for the Homeless community can help change that power imbalance by encouraging and helping patients and staff as we approach the 2018 midterm elections in November.
By the Numbers (U.S. Census Data)
  • 82% vs. 48%: The vast majority of households earning over $150,000 were registered to vote for the 2016 election, while only about half of those earning under $10,000 were registered.
  • 77% vs. 34%: Three-quarters of those in families earning over $150,000 voted in the 2016 election, while only about one-third of those earning under $10,000 turned up at the polls.
Here's the Truth:
  • Numerous public policies keep people from voting. Requirements for photo IDs, barriers for those with criminal records, closed polling stations, shortened early voting periods, long lines at under-resourced voting places—all these create specific barriers for low-income people. These policies also disproportionately impact people of color. Importantly: you do not need an address to vote!
  • Non-partisan voter registration is legal for non-profits. Not only is it legal—it’s the right thing to do. Voting is a fundamental civil right, and all people deserve to have a voice in the policies that impact them.
  • Voting can help end poverty. By voting, you help elect people who hold the values and pursue the solutions you want to see. Elected officials tend to respond more to the needs of voters than to non-voters. If we want to end poverty and homelessness, let’s elect people who are committed to those goals.
News to Know
  • New Proposed Restrictions on Benefits for Immigrants: Over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new proposal to deny visas or residency to immigrants—or members of their household, to include children who are U.S. citizens—if they use (or apply for) housing vouchers, food subsidies, and other “non-cash” forms of public assistance. Known as “public charge” policies, these can have significant impacts on the HCH community. Please watch future Mobilizers for further information on this issue!
  • Long-Awaited Opioid Bill Passes: Last week, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation related to the opioid epidemic. While it contains many provisions, to include continuing state grants, it is expected to fall far short of the measures needed to make substantive impacts to the crisis. Here’s a section-by-section synopsis. Next step: a conference committee with the House to resolve differences between the two versions.
  • Federal Budget Agreement Reached: Last week Congress passed a short-term budget agreement that funds the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services (HHS) and extends the deadline until December 7th for other spending bills that have yet to reach agreement. The total program spending is now nearly $190 billion—an increase of nearly $3 billion over last year. Here are some highlights.
  • Medicaid Work Requirements Take Effect in Arkansas: Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement took effect this month, and over 4,300 people lost coverage. Indiana, Kentucky, and New Hampshire have also received approval to implement work requirements, and eight additional states have applications in for similar waivers. Read more on how to fight back against these proposals that limit access to care.
What We're Reading
Local Feature
“We believe that your vote is your voice. It has been exciting to dispel misconceptions that people experiencing homelessness or people with criminal histories can't vote. In some cases, we may be the only ones who have ever asked if they would like to register. It's powerful.”
Aubrey Hasvold (pictured here), Advocacy Manager for our Organizational Member Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, where staff and volunteers are registering new voters at health centers, service provider spaces, coalition partner buildings, and community events. The goal is to register or obtain the commitment to vote from 500 voters before November’s election.
Did you receive Mobilizer as a forwarded email or hear about it via social media? Register now to receive our action alerts each month!
Sign Up for Mobilizer
Regina Reed, MPH
National Health Policy Organizer
National HCH Council
Baltimore, MD
(443) 703-1337 
Promote voter registration on social media and tweet about the importance of registering vulnerable people to vote. Don’t forget to tag us @NatlHCHCouncil
Sample Tweets:
• Registering people experiencing homelessness to vote helps end poverty. Let’s get to work! #NationalVoterRegistrationDay #GoVote @NatlHCHCouncil
• Voting is a civil right. Health care is a human right. Housing is a human right. Exercise your rights! #NationalVoterRegistrationDay #GoVote @NatlHCHCouncil
• Politicians respond to the needs of voters. If poor people vote less often than wealthy people, who gets the attention? Let’s end homelessness by registering people to vote! #NationalVoterRegistrationDay #GoVote @NatlHCHCouncil
Get Started on Twitter
Before November
 Make voter registration a part of your program. Our recent webinar covers legal limitations for nonprofits and shares best practices for engaging vulnerable people in a health care setting. 
View Our Webinar
 Use the toolkit from our partners at the National Coalition for the Homeless, “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote:” a Homeless and Low-Income Voter Rights Manual, which includes scripts, action steps, an appendix of state specific resources, and more.
Get the Toolkit
 Engage your clients/Consumer Advisory Board, staff, Board members, and community partners in activities to promote registration. Plan for client transportation to and from the polls on Election Day.
All Year Long
 Advocate for fair voting by pulling down barriers to the ballot box! Eliminate voter ID laws, restore rights for those with criminal records, oppose gerrymandering in legislative districts, fight purposeful mis-information campaigns, and push for more open and accessible voting processes.
 Engage with policymakers beyond election season. Develop relationships that facilitate direct understanding of issues related to poverty and homelessness. Hold them accountable to campaign promises and work with them to achieve successes that benefit vulnerable people.
 Make voter registration a part of your program. Our recent webinar covers legal limitations for nonprofits and shares best practices for engaging vulnerable people in a health care setting.
Questions on how you can get started with voter registration?
Contact Us
This publication and all HCH advocacy are funded by dues from Organizational Members of the Council and by private donations. Consider joining the Council to support this work.
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National Heatlh Care for the Homeless Council
PO Box 60427 | Nashville, TN 37206 US
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