As the countdown to the general election continues, many are making their voting plans. But for the 3.5 million Americans who experience homeless each year, that's a right that can be frustratingly difficult to exercise.
It's an issue that's highlighted in “Why I Vote: Housing Is a Human Right," the latest installment of the Meteor's 30 Days Till Tomorrow—an ongoing film series that takes a deep dive into women's voting rights in the run-up to the election and the women who are trying to increase voter turnout while there's still time. Former Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive helped produce the collection of shorts, which features activists and leaders who are mobilizing their local communities with a call-to-action.
In the latest installment, released today, activist Brooke Evans talks about what it's like to vote while unhoused. Evans, who spoke to Glamour in 2016 about the struggles she faced with housing insecurity while studying for her bachelor of arts degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, has continued to be an advocate for increasing voter registration among those lacking shelter as a voter education ambassador with the city of Madison.
"When I vote I'm telling my country and my community that our voices matter, no matter where we sleep," she says.
According to a recent report, the National Alliance to End Homeless found that “seventy percent of people experiencing homelessness are individuals who are living on their own or in the company of other adults. The remainder (30 percent) are people in families with children.”
Many who are unhoused also do not have internet access and a mailing address—things many take for granted when it comes to registering to vote and receiving their ballot. Evans knows firsthand the difficulties of not having a place to receive important documents via post, so she helped institute free mailboxes on the the University of Madison campus while still a student.
“I had a difficult time voting," she says. "My first time trying to vote on campus, the city clerk and the folks trying to register me had to take a phone call to decide whether to allow me to register to vote."
Those who are unhoused can circumvent the mailing address requirement for voter registration by providing an alternative address where their mail can be accepted, reports the National Coalition for the Homeless: “The address provided may be that of a local advocacy organization, shelter, outreach center, or anywhere else willing to accept mail on behalf of a person registering to vote.” However, having an emotional support animal, like Evans did, can disqualify people from shelter services.
For other ways you can help those who are experiencing homelessness cast their vote, Invisible People has compiled a list of resources. And if you, or someone you know, experiences problems accessing the polls, call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-687-8683.
30 Days Till Tomorrow is full of short films that serve as a powerful reminder of the various barriers women face when it comes to submitting their ballots and the work they're doing to overcome them. Watch more here.
Originally Appeared on Glamour