Over 20 million Americans could be evicted by the end of September due to the current economic crisis, with 30 to 40 million facing eviction by December. Somewhere in the middle, one of the most highly anticipated presidential elections in recent history will take place.
That eviction crisis could make it harder for people to vote ― and, in turn, harder to hold politicians accountable for failing them in the midst of a pandemic that has now killed over 150,000 Americans.
“It’s the compounding of all of the worst things at the same time: an eviction crisis in the middle of a pandemic in the middle of uprisings” against police brutality, said Ría Thompson-Washington, manager of the Voting Rights and Democracy Program at the Center for Popular Democracy.
Americans who have recently been evicted will likely face complicated hurdles in order to exercise their right to vote. Voters may have to figure out how to re-register to vote in a new area, ensure that they don’t miss the registration deadline, figure out which polling place they can vote at and get themselves to that polling place, where they could be turned away if the address on their ID doesn’t match their voter registration. If they want to vote by mail ― a practice that has exploded in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic ― they will have to change their address. All of this could reduce voting access for some of the Americans most affected by the current crises, often people of color.
National Voter Registration Day is Sept. 24, with many state deadlines to register falling somewhere around mid-October. “Folks who have been evicted or are in the process of being evicted between late September until October are already starting at a disadvantage,” Thompson-Washington said. “It becomes another burden that folks have to bear.”
A good example of this perfect storm of crises hitting millions of Americans is Florida. An estimated 51% of renters in the state are at...