There’s an election coming up on November 8. Your housing status does not impact your right to vote. Scroll to the end to read about the local ballot measures that could impact housing and homelessness.
Since winning the right to vote in California in 1988, homeless citizens have faced roadblocks when it comes to actually getting out to the polls and voting. Many individuals who are experiencing homelessness may not know they are eligible to vote, or have access to information about measures and candidates, or understand how to register on time to cast their vote on Election Day. Missing votes from lower-income people leads to a gap between what the average person wants and what is decided on Election Day. For example, non-voters are more likely to support higher taxes and more government-funded services, according to a 2006 study from the Public Policy Institute of California.
The 2022 U.S. midterm elections will take place on Tuesday, November 8. This guide will walk you through the process of registering to vote without an address, how to vote in person, how to vote by mail without an address, and other relevant questions.
Registering to Vote
The voter registration deadline for this fall’s election is October 24, 2022. You can check to see if you’re registered online here. You can also register for the first time here.
If you don’t want to register online, you can pick up paper copies of your voter registration forms at most government or city offices, the public library, some DMV locations, or at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters: 1225 Fallon St., Room G-1, Oakland, CA 94612.
If you do not register to vote by October 24, that’s OK. More information about late registration can be found near the end of this article.
The requirements for voting in the United States are that one is a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age, not currently in state or federal prison, not currently on parole for the conviction of a felony (misdemeanors and being on probation are OK), and not recently found by a court to be mentally unable to vote. If a person fits all of these requirements, they can register to vote in their county.
How Do I Register and Vote Without a Permanent Address?
You are legally guaranteed a right to vote even if you do not have a permanent address. You may do this in person at a polling place or by mail. If you wish to vote by mail, you will need to register to vote using an address you trust, where you can receive mail. This could be the address of a family member or a friend, or even a shelter where you stay—just make sure to ask before registering at your shelter’s address. You could also sign up to receive mail through service providers such as the Homeless Action Center in Oakland, the Berkeley Catholic Worker, the Berkeley Drop-In Center, and others.
If you do not have a specific address where .you can receive mail, that’s okay! You can still register to vote in person. You will need to enter an address when you register to vote, but that address can be a cross street, or any other location where you frequently stay. In this case, you likely will not receive your vote by mail materials, so you should plan to vote in person.
How and Where Can I Vote In Person?
There will be 100 accessible Vote Centers (or “polling places”) throughout Alameda County, which any voter can visit—regardless of where you register.
Starting Saturday November 5, you can vote in person at any accessible voting location in Alameda County. A map of the voting locations can be found online here.
According to the Alameda County Voter Registrar’s office, the Accessible Voting Locations will be open during these hours:
Saturday, Nov 5 – Monday, Nov 7: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov 8 (election day): 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where Do I Send My Mail-In Ballot?
Every voter in California will receive a mail-in ballot sometime after October 10. The ballot comes with prepaid postage and you can send it back in the mail via USPS any day up until November 8. Voters are encouraged to send their ballots in as early as possible. Every ballot postmarked November 8 that arrives at the registrar within 7 days of election day will be counted, no matter what.
You can also submit your mail-in ballot in a ballot drop box. You can find a list of ballot drop boxes online here.
What If I Miss the Voter Registration Deadline?
You can still register to vote even if you miss the voter registration deadline of October 24. If you miss the deadline and still want to vote, you can still conditionally register to vote and cast a ballot. Voting conditionally just means that your vote will be counted later in the process. The form for conditional registration can be found online here.
You can also do this in-person at any polling place between November 5 and election day on November 8. You will simply need to show up at the accessible voting center and ask to fill out a registration form to vote conditionally. This process basically allows you to register on the spot. You don’t have to show your ID, but you will need the last four digits of your social security number or your California driver’s license number. If the accessible voting center you are voting in is within Alameda County, you will also need to list an address that is within Alameda County—but you can use any address within the county, including shelters, public parks, and cross streets.
How Can I Make Sure My Vote Was Counted?
After you vote, you can sign up to track your ballot’s progress online here.
What’s on the ballot?
The 2022 U.S. midterm elections will take place on Tuesday, November 8. East Bay voters will have the opportunity to vote on members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, as well as state and county-wide candidates and ballot measures. Here are just a few of the local ballot measures that could have an impact on the crisis of homelessness in our cities.
Oakland will elect a new mayor, and vote on the city council seats for District 2, District 4, and District 6. All Oakland voters will have the opportunity to vote on these ballot measures which would directly impact housing and homelessness:
• If passed, Measure V would expand Just Cause eviction protections to prevent Oakland residents from losing their homes.
• If passed, Measure Q would exempt Oakland from Article 34, a racist statewide law that was passed almost a hundred years ago, that bans the construction of low-income, deeply affordable housing unless neighborhoods vote to allow it by a two-thirds vote.
• If passed, Measure U (an infrastructure bond) would actually fund building the affordable housing that Measure Q would legalize.
Berkeley residents will choose new members of the rent board and school board, as well as city council members for Districts 1, 4, 7, and 8. This is the first general election where Berkeley voters will choose representatives based on the new district maps, created through a recent redistricting process. All voters in Berkeley will also get to vote on the following ballot measures regarding housing and homelessness:
• If passed, Measure L would raise $650 million for infrastructure and affordable housing through increased property taxes.
• If passed, Measure M would enact a tax on vacant homes, charging landlords who have left specific rental units empty for over a year. (Many homes owned by individuals and not corporations would be exempt.)
• If passed, Measure N would authorize the state, federal or local government to construct up to 3,000 units of low-income housing in Berkeley. (The measure does not approve or commit funding for any specific projects.)
Alastair Boone is the Editor in Chief of Street Spirit.