Sandra Abdoulaye wants to cast a vote in this year’s presidential election but wasn’t sure she was eligible to register, because she is homeless. On Friday, volunteers at the resource center run by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless asked the 60-year-old a few questions, and soon, Abdoulaye was filling out the one-page form to register to vote, listing a shelter for both her home and her mailing address so the state can send her a ballot. “It was fast and easy,” Abdoulaye said. “I don’t know why anyone would refuse.” This year, some organizations and the Secretary of State’s office are targeting voter registration efforts at people who are homeless. In Colorado, voters have long been able to use any location — a shelter or a park — as a home address, as long as they also list a mailing address where they can receive ballots. Having an identification card isn’t a requirement to register.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless partnered this year with the National Coalition for the Homeless, committing to a goal of registering 100 new voters. “It’s important for them to be able to have the opportunity to be engaged,” said Cathy Alderman, vice president of communications and public policy for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “I believe there really is nothing more powerful than the opportunity to vote and be part of solutions.”
Denver shelters already have a number of voters registered at their addresses, according to numbers from the Secretary of State. There are 1,499 active registered voters just at the St. Francis Center.
Andrew Spinks, development director at the St. Francis Center, said the shelter’s staff hasn’t had voter registration efforts recently, he but believes many of those voters may have registered while getting an identification at the Department of Motor Vehicles or in registration drives of past years.