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Missoula homeless vote under Poverello address

Published On: Nov 05 2012 06:53:44 PM MST   Updated On: Nov 05 2012 08:55:13 PM MST

They're not likely to be a large slice of Tuesday's vote. But homeless people are casting their ballots.

A stumbling block for houseless folks is giving the elections department an address.

The Poverello Homeless Shelter in Missoula fixes that problem.

Ninety-two voters gave the elections department the Poverello Center as their address in Missoula.

For homeless people, 535 Ryman is a ticket for a say in the voting booth.

"I'm all over the place since I didn't really have a stable living situation right now," said Julia Fleming.

She plans on voting Tuesday.

Eric Van Zomeren was doing his laundry at the Salvation Army. He spends his nights at the Pov.

"Exposure to the elements is not a joke," said the softspoken, out of a job construction worker.

He's already voted absentee, and spent a great deal of time studying the issues. Van Zomeren takes his voting rights very seriously.

"I'd just like to be able to work for a living, and have a comfortable living," he said.

Van Zomeren is one of a growing number of Montana's unemployed workers who find themselves in shelters.

They may be a minority voting block. But they're out there. They're hard to track, and they're ever changing.

In a head count taken one night last January, in the city of Missoula there were 1,845 people listed as homeless.

That's about 145 more than the year before.

T.J. Bryant lists the Pov as his address. He's even campaigned for one of the U.S. Senate candidates.

Bryant said the homeless have little representation and hardly any voice.

"I want people to know that I'm as much a part of this community as anybody else."

Pointing to several of his friends outside the Pov, he said "every one of these people with me are as well."