Sunday, February 15, 2009

Homeless man denied right to run for office

Daniel Fore goes to every village council meeting in Oak Park, ILL and speaks at most of them. This year he decided to run for a seat on the village council. The elections will be held April 7.

But the three-person electoral board has decided that Mr. Fore has no right to run and will be kept off the ballot. The reason? Mr. Fore is homeless. Although he has a post office box in Oak Park, and says that is where he lives, there is no "proof" he actually lives there, the electoral board decided.

The one dissenting vote on the electoral board, Village President Daniel Pope, who thinks Mr. Fore should be allowed to run, admits it would be difficult for another resident to challenge Mr. Fore's residency. State law requires a candidate's nominating petitions to include their place of residence with "the street and number thereof, if any."

Mr. Fore has lawyers who will assist him in filing with the state court on the grounds that the phrase "if any" would allow a homeless person to run for office.

Voting rights for homeless people have become better-established over the last twenty years, with people living in shelters allowed to register and vote in 49 states (data for North Dakota not available). People living on the streets have the same right to vote in all but two states. Only ten states, however, have enacted legislation giving voting rights to the homeless.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has a wealth of materials on homeless rights and registration. As more and more people become homeless, attempt of homeless people to run for
office is bound to become more common.

Photo from the Chicago Tribune.

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