Individuals experiencing homelessness encounter obstacles that limit their ability to register to vote, despite the fact that policy decisions are designed to directly impact those who are economically disadvantaged. People without stable housing may lack a permanent address and may require access to affordable transportation in order to register and/or vote. To address this inequity, the Board of Supervisors today approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to assess whether homeless shelters or nearby venues could host vote centers or pop-up vote centers during the 2020 presidential primary and general elections.

“Our democracy depends on an informed and engaged citizenry participating in our electoral process. Individuals who lack a permanent home address have a right to vote and must be ensured their voice in the electoral process just like every other citizen. County residents experiencing homelessness should not endure any sort of hardship that may lessen their chances of becoming registered, active voters,” said Supervisor Solis. “I am committed to ensuring that our government represents everyone, including our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. LA County will enfranchise as many people as possible to ensure everyone eligible is able to vote regardless of their housing stability.

In 2016, the County approved strategies to combat homelessness, including requiring that LA County’s Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, in partnership with other agencies, help ensure that individuals experiencing homelessness are registered to vote. As a result of these efforts, access to voter registration information and the opportunity to register to vote has increased for County residents who lack stable housing.

The 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found 58,936 people experience homelessness on any given night, with the vast majority being of voting age. However, based on the number of voters who listed a cross-street as their residence in 2018, only 2,100 people experiencing unsheltered homelessness were registered to vote. Although this number does not include those voters who listed a shelter as their residence or those who registered to vote by listing their last home address, it demonstrates a need for ongoing efforts to improve voting access for those without stable housing.

Beginning with the presidential primary election on March 3, 2020, the County is modernizing the voting experience through the Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) initiative. This new VSAP model will establish vote centers throughout the County to better accommodate voters over an 11-day voting period. In addition, eligible residents will be able to register to vote or update their voter registration at any vote center up to and including Election Day. As the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk continues to assess venues that may serve as vote centers, homeless shelters and adjacent facilities will also be evaluated. The County will also ensure residents at these facilities are made aware of these changes.

Today’s motion directs the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, in collaboration with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), to outreach to homeless service providers to fully inform them of VSAP, and to continue conducting voter registration drives at shelters and other venues for people who lack stable housing.

The motion also calls for the assessment of homeless shelters and nearby facilities that could serve as vote centers or pop-up vote centers to ensure individuals experiencing homelessness who are registered to vote can participate in the upcoming presidential elections. In addition, the motion also requires a 90-day report back on the above directives.

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Communications Director, 213-359-0795 or rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov