Activists Are Helping Homeless People and Mental Health Patients Register to Vote

Novara Media, November 2019

“They do what they like,” says Tim, a man sleeping rough in Westminster, of the politicians on his doorstep. “They talk about the millions of pounds we’ll get off the EU but none of that money will ever get down to us. If we can vote, we can tell them what’s what.”

For people in the parts of society that are most consistently failed by the state, there may be little incentive to vote in the upcoming general election. Why believe things will change now? Not only this, but often, the more marginalised someone is, the harder it is logistically for them to register to vote, and to vote on the day: a cycle which means those with the most at stake are the least likely to have their voices heard.

People experiencing homelessness have the right to vote, but statistics show that only around 2% are actually registered to do so. The Labour Homelessness Campaign is running a voter registration drive to ensure homlessness people know they can vote, and know how to register if they want to. Shaista Aziz, a Labour councillor in Oxford and part of the Labour Homelessness Campaign, says that, along with a “fundamental lack of trust between people whose lives have been devastated and a dehumanising, broken system”, one of the biggest barriers to voting for people experiencing homelessness is information: not knowing that you can vote without a fixed address.

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