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“Voterizing” the Poor and Homeless in WA

September 12, 2008

Seattle, WA – There's one place where everyone is equal: at the ballot box. Today, the Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance begins a month-long drive, called "Voterization 2008," to register at least 1,500 poor and homeless voters, as well as to excite them about using their political power. Only 48 percent of people with incomes under $20,000 voted in the last presidential election, compared to 81 percent of those with incomes over $100,000.

Michael Kelly, with the Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance, says the less money a person makes, the less likely he or she is to vote. Kelly hopes, however, this year will be different.

"It's so important to get involved this year. There's going to be a lot of change across the country and across the state. It's just vital for people to have a voice, regardless of what that voice is saying. Just to get in there and be part of the political process."

Low-income voters have a critical stake, Kelly says, in whether many state and federal programs are funded or cut, and lawmakers need to hear from these citizens, too.

"In order for the legislators to justify spending the money on a program for affordable housing, or to spend time working on a bill to support these sorts of service providers, they need to know that people are using these services. They need to hear from the people who are using them. That, in the end, is why we want people to begin advocating for themselves."

The State of Washington allows homeless adults to register, but they must have a physical address, a mailing address and some form of identification. The group will be registering voters today during the Community Resource Exchange, a gathering of service providers for homeless people, being held at Qwest Field Plaza, Seattle. The deadline for advance voter registration is October 4.

Information about "Voterization 2008" is available at www.wliha.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA