Sunday, October 26, 2008

Registering the Homeless to Vote

I just had to take action in this election, but I was unsure how. When I read Fran's post "Registering the Homeless," BINGO! I knew that would be it. Since all my volunteer work is currently with homeless U.S. citizens, it was a perfect fit. I went to the auditor's office, got the forms and learned about deadlines.

What an inspiration it was! Last week during an all-staff meeting, my husband and I filled in for the shelter supervisors. Mr. B.E. answered the phone and handled the desk while I mingled in the day shelter room with my forms and my offer.

Eyes sparked to life, faces lit up when I asked people if they'd like to register. They did not hesitate. They actually thanked me profusely at times.

"This will be the first time I've voted," one man about my age remarked. "This is an historic election. I'm going to vote! Do you know who I'm going to vote for? Obama. He is one smart Black man."

A guy at the next table, overhearing this announcement, chimed in promptly, "He's a smart man. You can end it right there. He is a smart man."

The first man, duly noting the internalized racism of his remark, agreed. "You are right. He is one of the brothers. And he is smart."

"The New York Times endorsed Obama this morning," one homeless man informed me excitedly.

Seeing the shining pride and enthusiasm, I literally got goosebumps. The low-grade depression that often hangs like a pall over the room was lifted: "I'm registered!" "I've already voted." "I voted absentee."

My registration effort was entirely nonpartisan, of course. But people may declare a party as they register, and except for one "Undeclared," all registered as "Democrat." Many openly stated they would vote for Obama.

I felt safe enough to share my concern, a concern I've voiced repeatedly on the blogs: "I'm worried that people will not vote for Obama simply because he is African-American."

Emphatically one man responded, "If Obama could beat Hillary in Iowa, a state that is 93% Caucasian. If he could win here. In Iowa! Then he can win."

Relieved by this reasoning, full of hope and uplifted, I carried out those forms to submit them to the county officials.


Distributorcap said...

what a great thing you are doing --- the country and the sane people all thank you.

this is the GOP nightmare and why they push so hard to disenfranchise people.

DCup said...

You are so good! Thank you for all you do to live the example.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Bless you for doing this.

Dada said...

B.E. - walking the walking. WTG!

Missy said...

Kudos to you, BE, and justice for all.

Ingrid said...

BE...I found this site through someone who commented on my blog and thought you might be interested, check it out when you have a 'few'..


Carol said...

Thank you for giving hope to those people.

Mariamariacuchita said...

you inspire so many.

okjimm said...

Ya know, I had a thought....(they are rare)...

.... and it occurs to me that the US-Hey is a lot better place 'cause of people like you... Why, gosh darn it, makes me wanna go have a beer!

I have been doing some phone work for the Dems.... mostly just 'please vote' phone calls.

I give blood at the office so I can spare a few hours to do the same at home.

an average patriot said...

Bravo for you and Mr. B E!
That is really a cool and good thing you are doing. I just thought since they did not have a place of residence they could not vote especially since hearing of the effort not to let those vote that had their homes foreclosed.

Border Explorer said...

Thanks, Everyone, for your nice comments.
DCap: I feel lucky I can participate in this action. The homeless people gave me new hope by grabbing onto democracy.

DCup, you're doing your "evangelization" at your workplace! (Mine is much more enjoyable, I suspect.) Thanks for what you're doing!

Ruth, Dada, Missy: Let's hope & pray for a just/fair election this time.

Thanks, Ingrid. I'll be right over to check that out.

Carol, Maria: Likewise to you two! I appreciate the hope and support I get from your blogs.

Okjimm, good for you for phone calling! Hope we can both dedicate a beer to Obama on 11/4!

James: They can use the shelter for their address, so that gives them the ability to vote. Kudos to the shelter!

susan said...

You are such a good person.. I almost said woman but I don't want to be accused of being sexist.

Fran said...

What a heartening story you tell here Ms. Border. People do feel empowered when voting, and as Mr. Ramblings & I were discussing, if there is an overwhelming landslide of votes, perhaps it would wipe out any potential voting irregularities. A "Barack" solid majority win.
Thank you so much for walking the walk & opening the door to people taking their country & lives back.
Power to the people!

okjimm said...

I was going to help some homeless folks register, too; I mean I thought they were homeless....turns out they were just folks from Minnesota. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

thailandchani said...

Registering the homeless to vote is the best possible course of action! They understand class interest without having to have it explained.

So glad you did this~


Border Explorer said...

Susan: Muuuwah!

Fran: This post is dedicated (in my heart) to YOU. Thanks your blog that gave me the idea.

Okjimm: Don't get me started on MN jokes!! [Sorry, MNmom, if you hear this!]

T Chani: They live the downside of the GOP reality, don't they?

Fran said...

Awwww ~ But YOU ran with it, so much appreciation to you. Namaste

Liberality said...

what great work! I am glad the downtrodden are finally getting a voice with which to speak. thank you!

eProf2 said...

Good job, BE! Well done! Now, a technical question: how do the homeless register if they don't have an address? And, will they need a photo id with the same address on it to vote? I read recently that the Repugs were asking county registrars in MI to disenfranchise all of the folks who have been displaced by foreclosures. No address and no photo id to match the address. I look forward to your answer. In the meanwhile, great idea and a great sense of humanitarian work.

Border Explorer said...

Fran: Namaste.

Lib, they wanted to speak--just needed an invitation. And I think having Obama as a candidate is extra incentive in this election.

eProf--welcome back from your trip! Voters do need an address. The shelter where these homeless people are staying allows them to receive mail, so they can use the shelter for their address. (Not all shelters allow this.) Once registered, they can vote without further address proof in their registered precinct or by absentee. I think this might differ by state. Thanks for your kind words.

eProf2 said...

Here in AZ a voter must show a photo id when they enter the voting area and the address on both the registration and the photo id must be the same.

enigma4ever said...

thank you for doing this...I wish there were millions of you...

Border Explorer said...

eProf: Mr. B.E. told me that NBC news reported tonight that two states have that requirement.

Enigma--Thanks for such a nice comment! I've been intending to send you the link to this post, since it combines a couple of your passions. Wish you could've seen the hope Obama was generating in the shelter. Goosebumps! Thanks for stopping by!