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Here’s a simple way to increase voter registration: Have landlords give new renters the forms

Moving into a new apartment comes with a lot of paperwork: the lease, proof of income and identification, tax returns. What if, when your landlord hands over all those documents, they also included a voter registration form, so you can make sure you’re registered to vote at your new address?

Across the country, housing providers are working with their tenants to register them to vote as part of the Housing Providers Council, an initiative from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Renters are historically less likely to vote than homeowners, and low income renters even more so. About 60% of homeowners voted in 2018, while only 40% of renters did; 85% of people with earnings over $100,000 were registered to vote in 2016 (74% of whom voted), while just 60% of people with incomes below $20,000 were registered, and only 38% of them voted.

Landlords and housing providers are in a unique position to address this disparity. “What we’ve been really focusing on . . . is every time we sign a new lease with someone, also saying to them, ‘Have you registered to vote?’” says Jonathan Rose, president of real estate development and property management firm Jonathan Rose Companies and a member of the council, speaking at a recent webinar hosted by NLIHC. “They’re sitting there filling out lots of papers anyway, and it’s a time in which they have a new address and might need to update their voter information.”

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