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KNKX, along with NPR, will bring you all the information you will need as we close in on Election Day 2016. Stay up to date with local and national issues along with stories about how this election cycle will affect you and your family here in Washington and around the world.Also be sure to check out our series on Sound Transit's Proposition 1, also known as Sound Transit 3. You can read more about ST3 and this series here. Be sure to stay up-to-date with our national coverage too by clicking here.

Being Homeless Doesn't Disqualify You From Voting In Washington

Paula Wissel
Volunteers have been conducting a voter registration drive at homeless encampments like this one in downtown Seattle.

When you register to vote, you have to write down where you live. But what if you’re homeless? As it turns out, in Washington state that doesn’t disqualify you, but it can make voting more challenging. Alison Eisinger is in charge of voter outreach at the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. She says this is crunch time; the voter registration deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 11. She and volunteers have been visiting tent cities, shelters and food banks to sign people up to vote.

“We have already registered, since September 27th, 121 people to vote,” said Eisinger.

And that's on top of several hundred they registered in May. Eisinger says it's important that people, regardless of their housing situation, be able to participate in the democratic process.

In Washington state, she says in order to determine what legislative district live in, you are required to say where you normally reside, but it doesn’t have to be a traditional address.

"For example, a street intersection is acceptable in our state,” she said.

You do, however, need an actual address for the ballot to be sent to.

Eisinger says the state's vote by mail system, while touted as a convenience, can actually make things more difficult for people who are homeless. Eisinger says people she’s registering are using post office or social service agency addresses or using a friend or relative's home address.

"The are hoping that they can make it there in in time to get their ballot and voters guide,” Eisinger said.

Eisinger says, when she's meeting with people in homeless camps, she spends a lot of time clearing up the misperception that people who have been convicted of  felonies can’t vote.  She says that is not the case in Washington state. Here you can vote as a felon, unless you are currently under the supervision of the Washington Department of Corrections.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.