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Union Gospel Mission facilitates Vancouver's homeless vote

(Courtesy: Twitter @ugm)

Jeremy Hunka says this was the second session of advance polls at the UGM over about the last week

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Advance voting at the Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has been pretty successful, according to Jeremy Hunka, senior public relations specialist with the organization.

Though the UGM has had advance voting polls in the past, today’s is specifically scheduled to accommodate the DTES’s homeless population. Booths were open between 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., allowing people at the shelter to cast a ballot in the civic election.

Hunka says this was the second session of advance polls at the UGM over about the last week, and around thirty people have taken part. He says it’s important that those who are among the most vulnerable of Vancouver’s population have a chance to have their voices heard.

“There’s a lot of our homeless guests who, quite frankly, are facing a lot of barriers to voting, some of them might have to go to work or it’s just very difficult to get to polling stations on election day. Some are suffering and voting isn’t at the top of their mind, though they want to have their opinion listened to,” Hunka tells NEWS 1130.

“We even had one gentleman register to vote who’s never voted in his life and he’s about 50 years old.”

He also says a lot of people don’t have proper identification, which can be a problem come election time, so the UGM helps out by vouching for the people, if they can only provide a second piece of i.d.

“If they don’t have a fixed address, for example, we can write a letter, stating that this person is at our shelter and they are temporarily at residence at UGM,” he says, explaining the letter serves as a “statutory declaration” which legitimizes their vote. “So it’s eliminating one more barrier.”

He adds the organization will definitely look at doing this again in future elections.