Registering Voters Who Are Homeless

Oct 23, 2016

After receiving inquiries the Illinois State Board of Elections has issued an alert to assure voters of the integrity of the upcoming election.

It comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to claim that the election is "rigged." In Wednesday night's debate, Trump was cagey about whether he'll accept the outcome on November 8.

The board's assistant director Jim Tenuto says tampering with electronic voting machines or coordinating a statewide effort to cheat would be difficult, given that elections are locally-managed.

"The elections are governed by the 109 election authorities. Each one uses different systems. some use the same. But there's no uniform system. So to rig an election, you'd almost have to be involved with each of the 109 election jurisdictions, or certain select ones," he said.

Tenuto says all voting machines, their memory cards and all tabulating equipment are publicly tested.

He recommends that anyone who wants to observe, or be part of the process, contact their local clerk or election authority to see about becoming an election judge. That requires completing four hours of training.

Online voter registration ended Oct. 23, but grace period registration -- which involves registering and voting at the same time -- goes through the day before the election. Illinois also offers election day registration. Early voting is an option for those already registered.

Keith Freeman, with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, has spent the campaign season visiting homeless shelters, and holding registration drives as schools, churches and Salvation Army locations with a goal of getting 300 residents to register.

"My job is to educate them as to what happen if he don't vote," he said. "If you don't vote, you basically allowing the enemy to get in and win. No matter who it is. I don't tell 'em who to vote for. Or who not to vote for. But it's your given right to cast your opinion about who should take that position."

Freeman, who was once homeless himself, says it's especially important for homeless individuals to make their voice heard this year, because shelters and social services took a hit during the budget stalemate.

"Folks that are on the street are being pushed to other locations that are already filled, so it's like it's bringing a lot of people to the street. And it's cutting a lot of mental ... service programs. Some places actually closed down completely. And these folks are actually roaming around the street because they have no place to go," Freeman said. "I'm dealing with a whole population of people that were just like I was, that they're like that now. And I need to let them know: it really means something. You need to know who you're voting for and why. It makes a big difference. I know it does."