As the 2020 election approaches, many individuals are wondering about their voting rights in Herndon, VA. This is especially true for those who are experiencing homelessness. With the recent increase in homelessness in the United States, it is important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding voting for this population.
The Right to VoteFirst and foremost, it is important to understand that being homeless does not disqualify an individual from voting. The right to vote is a fundamental right for all citizens of the United States, regardless of their housing status.
This was established in the 1972 case Dunn v. Blumstein, where the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot impose additional requirements for voting beyond those outlined in the Constitution. However, despite this ruling, there are still barriers that can prevent homeless individuals from exercising their right to vote. These barriers can include lack of access to voter registration, lack of a permanent address, and difficulty obtaining proper identification.
Registering to VoteIn order to vote in any election, individuals must first register to vote. In Herndon, VA, individuals can register to vote online, by mail, or in person at the local registrar's office.
However, for those experiencing homelessness, registering to vote can be a challenge. One of the main barriers for homeless individuals is the requirement of a permanent address on the voter registration form. This can be difficult for those who do not have a stable residence. However, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) allows individuals to use a shelter or other location as their address for voter registration purposes. This means that homeless individuals can use the address of a shelter or other service provider as their permanent address when registering to vote. Additionally, some states have implemented Same Day Voter Registration (SDVR), which allows individuals to register to vote on the same day as the election.
Unfortunately, Virginia is not one of these states. However, Virginia does allow for in-person absentee voting, which can be done at the local registrar's office up until the Saturday before the election. This can be a helpful option for those who may not have a permanent address but still want to exercise their right to vote.
Obtaining Proper IdentificationIn order to vote in Virginia, individuals must present a valid form of identification. This can include a driver's license, state-issued ID, or a voter registration card.
For homeless individuals, obtaining proper identification can be a challenge. However, the Virginia Department of Elections has implemented a program called "Project Homeless Connect" which provides free identification cards to homeless individuals. This program is available in select cities and counties, including Fairfax County where Herndon is located. The ID cards provided through this program are valid for voting purposes and can be used as a form of identification at the polls.
Challenges Faced by Homeless VotersDespite the laws and programs in place to protect the voting rights of homeless individuals, there are still challenges that they may face when trying to vote. One of the main challenges is transportation to the polls.
Many homeless individuals do not have access to reliable transportation, making it difficult for them to get to their designated polling location. Another challenge is lack of information and education about the voting process. Homeless individuals may not be aware of their rights and the resources available to them in order to vote. This is why it is important for organizations and service providers that work with the homeless population to educate them about their voting rights and assist them in the registration process.
ConclusionVoting is a fundamental right for all citizens, including those who are experiencing homelessness. While there are still barriers and challenges that homeless individuals may face when trying to vote, there are laws and programs in place to protect their voting rights.
It is important for individuals and organizations to educate themselves and others about these rights and resources in order to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
- Virginia Voter Registration Application
- Photo IDs Required to Vote in Virginia
- Voter Outreach Materials
- Project Homeless Connect in Fairfax County