Does My Vote Matter? The Electoral Behaviour and Attitudes of People Experiencing Homelessness

Veronica Coram, Jonathon Louth, Lisa Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People experiencing homelessness (PEH) are a highly marginalised group who often experience an intersection of associated social disadvantages, including civic exclusion. Yet there has been little research into their patterns of, and attitudes towards, political participation. To partly address this gap, we conducted fieldwork among PEH in central Adelaide, South Australia during Australia’s 2019 Federal Election. We used a mixed-methods approach involving 164 unique participants in order to uncover perceived obstacles to enrolling and voting, and to ascertain what might make voting easier or more appealing. The research also produced higher-level insights into the worth and value of voting for PEH. We were particularly interested in understanding the psycho-social aspects of their voting exclusion and the symbolic significance of electoral participation for PEH. A key finding is that, although the study participants had much lower enrolment and turnout rates than the general population, this was not obviously due to lower levels of political interest. Rather, PEH face barriers to voting that are closely tied to their lived experience of disadvantage and marginalisation. In this context, reform of electoral policy and practice (such as greater flexibility in enrolment practices) is a key element of addressing the civic exclusion of PEH.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-71
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Homelessness
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • belonging
  • citizenship
  • electoral inclusion
  • homelessness
  • political equality
  • voting


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