Registering Homeless Voters

Jul 26, 2011

Some county clerks say the current system for registering homeless voters is fraught with peril. When a homeless person registers to vote, Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown says something as simple as assigning a poling place becomes complicated.

“If we had cards that were marked homeless with no verifiable address to put them in the proper precinct, we were to proactively by default put them in the precinct where the county clerk’s office resides.  And that’s where it struck a chord with me.  It’s a huge opportunity for fraud.” said Brown.

Brown brought the problem before the interim joint legislative committee on state government.  Secretary of state Elaine Walker says they want to ensure unfair barriers don’t interfere with a homeless Kentuckian’s right to vote.

“We just wanted to make sure it is not an arbitrary decision, well I’m going to pack them in x precinct or that precinct and so that simply takes that arbitrary nature out,” explained Walker.

Realistically, Walker said very few homeless individuals register   to vote.  She quoted one local election official who, during an entire career, registered eight homeless people. Still, Louisville representative Mary Lou Marzian says homeless voters should not be disenfranchised.