[Hpn] Commissioner Disputes Homeless Vote

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 26 Feb 2005 09:59:17 -0500


www.news14charlotte.com/

Commissioner disputes homeless vote

2/25/2005

By: Shawn Flynn


Homeless Voting

Michael Dickerson, the elections director in Mecklenburg County, said he is
checking on the legality of the homeless votes.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In October, the Urban Christian Ministry bused several
homeless people to the polls during early voting.

Bill James, a Mecklenburg County commissioner, claims that those people
registered and voted illegally.
“What the Mecklenburg Board of Elections and the State Board of Elections is
doing is allowing them to register at office buildings, I guess near a park
or something, I don't really know,” James said Friday. “But in any event,
they're not following the law.”
County records show that several dozen people registered at the Charlotte
Rescue Mission. Hundreds of others registered at the Ministry Center on
North College Street.

In October, the Urban Christian Ministry bused several homeless people to
the polls during early voting.
“The law says you have to have a fixed, habitable location,” James said. “I
don't think a park bench, a steam grate and an underpass is habitable.”
Election law does state that a person's habitat must be fixed to be able to
register. But an agency manual for the State Board of Elections states that
“for homeless persons, the residence address would be defined as the place
where they sleep or spend the majority of their time.”

Michael Dickerson, the elections director in Mecklenburg County, said he is
checking on the legality of the homeless votes.

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James
“It's a very good question, and (James) brings up a very good point,”
Dickerson said. “But I want to make sure everybody who wants to register to
vote may register to vote. Just the fact that I'm homeless, does that
disqualify me the right to register to vote? I don't think so.”
James, a Republican, said that if "spending a majority of time" is a rule
for registering, he plans on using that to his advantage.
“We're going to have to revisit how Republicans register and go after some
of these district Democrats,” he said.
Commissioner Valerie Woodard, a Democrat, believes that every citizen --
homeless or not -- deserves the right to vote. She is so concerned about the
issue that she wants to set up a voting precinct inside the county jail.
Dickerson said he is waiting for state direction before he makes any
decisions.
Out of all the homeless who registered at the Charlotte Rescue Mission and
the Ministry Center, fewer than 50 actually voted.


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