3:58pm

Thu July 14, 2011
All Politics are Local

Homeless Voters Prompt Ethics Complaint

After denouncing the State Board of Elections for telling county clerks to approve voter registration cards that have “homeless” listed under the address, Republican Secretary of State candidate Bill Johnson has filed an ethics complaint Thursday against the panel and Secretary of State Elaine Walker.Last week, the Todd County businessman called on Walker to resign and has made the issue of homeless voters a centerpiece of his campaign against Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who supports the right of the homeless to list “place-to-place” under the address portion of the application.

Johnson says he is concerned about possible voter fraud and claims the board is violating the state constitution for instructing clerks to approve those registrations.

From the Herald-Leader:

“The homeless, like all Americans, have the right to vote,” Johnson said in his complaint. “However, to exercise that right to vote, all persons must register using the voter registration form and meet residency and precinct requirements.”

The list of requirements on the secretary of state’s website does not mention residency and a Walker spokesperson told WFPL Wednesday that barring homeless people from registering on the grounds that they don’t live in a traditional residence has been shot down by the courts for violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Grimes says her GOP opponent is not familiar with the state’s election law and is trying to limit voting rights to property owners.

The 2-page memo instructs election officials to “make all attempts to contact” individuals if a telephone number or mailing address is provided. It also says if the application uses the description of an address then clerks should assign the corresponding precinct. And if a person lists “place to place” or “homeless” then state officials should place the voter in the precinct containing the county clerk’s office.