Telluride considers plan that could hamper homeless voting

While Denver officials are preparing a voter registration registration drive for the city’s homeless during the Democratic National Convention, the city of Telluride, about 360 miles southwest of Denver, may approve a plan that could keep the homeless from voting.

According to The Telluride Daily Planet, the Telluride Town Council has long grappled with voter fraud, suspecting that elections are influenced by vacation property owners who mail in absentee ballots. Now, the Town Council has drafted a plan to redefine who a Telluride resident is, taking into account supplementary information like the address on a person’s car registration.

Homeless individuals would have to provide proof of a physical address, like a homeless shelter. Problem is, Telluride doesn’t have a homeless shelter. One Town Council member, David Oyster, made light of the issue in the Daily Planet article, saying “The local definition of homeless is a snowboarder without a girlfriend.”

The Town Council will put the new plan, which would amend the Telluride charter, to voters. Meanwhile, one Denver homeless activist has spoken out against the plan. Randle Loeb, a former homeless man who serves on the boards of several homeless and poverty agencies in Denver, called the proposal “unconstitutional” on the Denver Urban Spectrum’s SpectrumTalk blog, where he regularly contributes.

“The last time that a homeless person was barred from voting was when it was decided that they had no proof of a permanent dwelling,” he wrote. “This too proved to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act. A person who is released from prison or jail is entitled to vote and also, anyone who is unable to use an address aside from a place where they receive mail.”

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Naomi Zeveloff

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