More than 500,000 state residents are served through programs such as childcare to counseling to emergency homeless shelters. The majority of these clients of nonprofits are adult U.S. citizens who have the right to vote, but may be hard to reach through traditional voter registration campaigns. Nonprofit human service providers have a unique ability to reach underrepresented communities. Nonprofit providers are well placed to reach eligible voters, to provide them with basic education about their voting rights and how to register, and to encourage them to become informed about electoral choices. Encouraging our clients to register and vote is an important part of supporting them to exercise their voice and self-advocate – just as all citizens should do.
Homelessness & Voting
People experiencing homeless face unique challenges when registering to vote. In 2014, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill launched a voter registration drive alongside CT nonprofits. Through this effort, a questions and answers memo, was release providing guidance regarding issues of residence and voting rights for those experiencing homelessness.
- CT Homeless Voting Q&A (PDF)
The National Coalition for the Homeless has a “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote Campaign” which seeks to promote voting access for low income and homeless persons to ensure that people who are economically disadvantaged maintain an active role and voice in shaping their future. They have many resources and ideas to help overcome the obstacles that prevent people experiencing homelessness from becoming registered, active voters.
Nonprofit VOTE, a nonpartisan organization, provides resources to help nonprofits integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services. They have a library of resources available for staff engage voters like a sample script for voter registration, a voter registration toolkit for staff, and more.
The Nonprofit Alliance, a Connecticut statewide association of nonprofits, that supports nonprofits through the Election Program to guide nonprofits through candidate tours of their facilities, holding candidate forums, and providing voter registration resources.