The homeless aren’t a voting block – yet. But just image in LA County if every eligible person experiencing homelessness voted. There could be over 39,000 voters per my reading of the 2011 LASHA LACoC count. That is roughly 2% of the turnout in the March 8, 2011 election.
With some votes being called to close to predict this year (President, Proposition 30) I wonder how those experiencing homelessness would vote. Or, I wonder how they might swing an election if they really got organized for more than a meal or a bed ticket.
I wonder if they heard predictions of spending one BILLION dollars in the race to gain a four year job that pays less than many wall street 1%s make, if that would taint their votes, not to mention their cynicism.
I wonder if they heard of the campaign rhetoric predicting dire reductions in medical, educational and poverty programs they might turn out just to let their voices be heard. When future incarceration and homelessness are so predictable from educational achievement and mental health stability point-of-view, would they care? When food stability is one of the greatest concerns in schools from South Central LA to the deep south, would they say “enough already?”
Would they resent working a little bit longer and paying a couple more dollars in taxes, if they had the luxury of a real job?
My very unscientific polling of our guests and Freshstart students today led me to believe they, like so many of those who just don’t show up to vote, might vote for some of the same concerns that those of us not homeless cast our vote for or against.
Some are died-in-the-wool party-line voters, red or blue. Some are single issue voters; one issue above all others would influence their vote. And, like so many others, many say what they really feel is “it really doesn’t matter; my vote would never count; my beliefs are not valid in the polling booth.”
Don’t be a homeless no-show. Get out and vote.
Better yet make it an event. Form a line, pass out stuff and see if you can gather a crowd to do something just as meaningful as feeding those who are homeless. Vote your conscience in ways that are just as imperative as ending chronic homelessness. Ending homelessness requires every ounce of political and personal muscle we can muster.
Here at the Los Angeles Mission we open our facility to be a polling place for skid row. We do so because every vote counts just as much as every life has meaning and worth. 1% or homeless we all get one vote…make yours count!
-Herb Smith, President