Sunday, May 11, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC

Pivot Claiming Changes Hurt Homeless

There are a number of proposed changes to our elections act and citizens need to become aware of these changes.

Pivot Legal Society is claiming that the changes will stop homeless people from voting. I disagree.

Currently, homeless people can vote if they do not have the required and necessary identification as long as someone such as a lawyer, social worker, minister or advocate signs a declaration that they know the individual in question and that they ordinarily reside in the riding in which they plan to vote.

The proposed change says that one person (a registered voter) can vouch for one person. This still allows our vulnerable homeless population a vote, which I think is imperative.

What this new proposed election act change does is cut out the targeted exploitation of our homeless population at election time.

There is no question that the homeless have been targeted for mass sign-ups on election day by those who claim they want to ensure that the homeless have a vote. Perhaps this is true and who am I to suggest otherwise, however, the problem is that these helpers don't tend to be non-partisan and are agents of various partisan campaigns.

The NDP is infamous for engaging in this type of electioneering which I think skates a fine line. On the one hand we want to ensure our homeless have the opportunity to vote, yet we do not want them targeted for political gain. Under the current system, I think this occurs.

In the DTES one year, residents of hotels were offered five dollars if they went out and voted. In another instance, an organization serving the drug-addicted allegedly offered up empty bottles and honorariums to those who could prove they had voted.

I believe it is the shared responsibility of society to assist our homeless, marginalized and downtrodden citizens. If a small percentage of citizens adopt one homeless person, this will ensure they can vote at election-time. This will prevent political parties and the poverty industry from trageting our homeless for political gain.

I encourage folks to adopt-a-homeless-person. This will ensure fairness, goodness and democracy prevails in our society. It will assist those who have the right to vote in society to exercise this option without political interference. Moreover, this adopt-a-homeless plan works to ensure our homeless are protected from crass political opportunism and exploitation at election time.

Jamie Lee Hamilton