Volume 94, Issue 38

Tuesday, November 18, 2000


Editorial Board 2000-2001

The homeless still voteless

Editorial Cartoon

The homeless still voteless

Wierd things happen when the planets of the solar system align. Much of the same is currently taking place in the equally vacuuous realm of politics. In this, the year 2000, we are seeing municipal, mayoral and federal elections at the same time.

Although this is a rather odd year for elections, the same old issues still haunt these elections as they do any other; the matter of getting people out to vote once again becomes a question. The two most apathetic demographics of the voting population; students and the homeless are still facing the same inhibitors when going out to the polls. What are the politicians doing about it?

Among the many schemes intended to forward the depth and breadth of the democratic process, is one that involves getting the homeless out to vote. Many believe this initiative will prove to be a waste of time.

There are over 200,000 homeless people across the country. In order to vote, the homeless person must stay the Saturday night before the election in a shelter in order to register. The registry is, for all intents and purposes, a matter of placing one's hand on a Bible and swearing before God almighty that one is in fact who one says he or she is.

How many of these individuals will really go out and vote in municipal and/or federal elections is unknown. Whether or not the average homeless person's main concern beyond mere survival is voting, is questionable. The homeless as a group, are disenfranchised members of society.

It seems a slap in the face to enumerate the homeless, have them vote knowing full well whoever they elect will most likely leave them in the same predicament in which they now find themselves.

Although the homeless vote can be questioned, one thing that cannot be questioned is the right to a say in the democratic process. Although these people may be destitute non-participants in the economy, this does not justify denying them the right to participate in the polity.

This principle should be of paramount imporance in this particular election, the first of a new millennium. It should set a precedent, bringing more democracy to the people and impassioning those who would otherwise be apathetic. Voter apathy is a cancer on the democratic process. Politicians are fighting it by encouraging the homeless to vote, so why aren't they targeting students as well?

Perhaps they feel they don't want to waste the effort on kids that simply don't know the issues.

Suffice it to say, this is not a healthy activity. Students are quiet literally the leaders of tommorow. The government should do their best in order to instill in them an inviolable attitude towards democratic participation.

What better way to secure a future where every citizen can put in their two cents?

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