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With the election right around the corner, Fast Company’s Kristin Toussaint poses an interesting question for apartment landlords in her recent article. When residents move into a new apartment community, they are required to fill out a lot of paperwork, including the lease, proof of income, and tax returns. What if, with all that paperwork, they also included a voter registration form, so residents can make sure they are registered to vote at their new address?

Renters are historically less likely to vote than homeowners, with 60% of homeowners voting in 2018, while only 40% of renters did. As a result, housing providers are in a unique position to address this disparity.

When moving to a new apartment, renters can fall off of voter registration lists, says Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. And because of housing instability issues, renters change their address more frequently than homeowners. During the COVID-19 pandemic, registration obstacles are even higher. If someone doesn’t have internet at home, libraries and other places they would normally go to register online, or in person, might still be closed. All these barriers can also make it difficult for people to get information on mail-in voting right now. “Having a housing property with informed management that can assist residents is proven to not only be a help to getting them registered to vote, but informing them on how to vote,” says Jonathan Rose, president of real estate development and property management firm Jonathan Rose Companies and a member of the Housing Providers Council.

The council is part of NLIHC’s Our Homes Our Votes 2020 campaign, an effort to increase low-income voter participation. For NLIHC, this participation is crucial to getting affordable housing legislation on the table, because when renters are less likely to vote, politicians don’t focus on their needs. “What will it take to get policymakers to prioritize the needs of low-income renters?” Yentel says. “When we look at who regularly votes and who doesn’t, it becomes very clear what it will take.”

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