Every Election Day, Chrissy Simonds makes the rounds to homeless shelters and transitional housing in Manchester urging people to vote. Simonds, who was once homeless, often faces skepticism from people who tell her their vote doesn’t matter. Still, she presses on. In November, she convinced seven people to vote — a record, if small. But Simonds and other advocates fear a bill in the New Hampshire legislature will create further barriers to voting for a population that already feels marginalized. The Republican-authored bill adds new requirements for anyone who registers within 30 days of an election to provide documentation, such as a lease or a driver’s license, to show where they live and that they plan to stay there. For people without a fixed address, such documents may not exist or be difficult to access.
“If you want people to vote, why would you make things more difficult?” said Simonds, who lacked a valid ID or a bill in her name when she fled an abusive relationship years ago with her young son in tow. She now leases an apartment in Manchester.
“Folks who are on the streets, folks who are in the shelters, they simply don’t have the types of documentation that this bill would require,” said Cathy Kuhn, director of the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness. “It could have huge repercussions on their ability to vote and their ability to even feel like they can vote.”
It’s impossible to know how many homeless people vote in New Hampshire. But a 2016 report from the coalition estimates more than 1,300 people were without a home.
The bill is working its way through the GOP-controlled Legislature, and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu will likely sign it.
Full Article: GOP-backed election bill may complicate voting for homeless.