Photo: Volunteers interview homeless at their camp under an overpass during the Stockton, Calif., Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count on January 31, 2022. (Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News)

Unhoused people can register to vote in San Joaquin County, even on Election Day. 

California has a safety net law called “Conditional Voter Registration” which allows people to cast a ballot on Election Day if they missed the deadline to register, according to Secretary of State Shirley Weber’s website. This can be done at a polling place, voting center or county election’s office. A conditional ballot is counted after a county election office verifies the voter’s identity.

Registration is closed 15 days before an election, the San Joaquin Registrar of Voters Office spokeswoman, Stephanie Yoder, said in an email. Anyone registering after the closing date will be given a conditional ballot.

“You may register to vote as long as you have a location where you can receive mail and be properly assigned to a voting precinct,” according to the Voters Experiencing Homelessness Fact Sheet created by the California Secretary of State’s Office in 2020. 

You cannot use a P.O. Box or business address to register, according to the fact sheet. 

Yoder said unhoused people in San Joaquin County are able to register to vote using a local shelter’s address and an intersection location of where the person currently lives. The process doesn’t require people to bring a driver’s license or social security number.

A shelter in Stockton was told it would not be able to handle mail from people using their services. 

“We used to do mail, but then the laws changed. We’re not allowed to handle their mail. We would get it all the time for years. And then (the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency) said, ‘Nope, can’t do that anymore,’” Gospel Center Rescue Mission spokesman Britton Kimball told Stocktonia. 

Kimball said his group was told they couldn’t receive mail going to the emergency shelter without a handler’s license.

The United States Postal Service offers mail services to people experiencing homelessness. At the post office on 4245 West Lane in Stockton, Kimball said people are able to walk in and request free PO boxes.

The San Joaquin County Registrar’s Office does not collect any data on unhoused voters and does not track when people stop voting because of lack of address, Yoder said.

A program called Project Homebound, created to do surveys of Stockton’s unhoused population, was launched by the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s CodeStack department last November. 

The pilot project was contracted by United Way and SJC Continuum of Care to identify gender mix, causation, resource allocation and shelter utilization, San Joaquin County Office of Education spokesman Zachary Johnson told Stocktonia in a written statement.

Project Homebound was “most recently used to collect data on the unsheltered homeless to obtain a more in-depth assessment of individuals experiencing homelessness,” Johnson wrote. “We have not been contacted to work with any public agencies or outreach organizations to collect data on voting resources for this group. That would be interesting.”

More information on how to vote can be found on the San Joaquin Registrar of Voters website.

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