Minneapolis City Council Member Jacob Frey has a strategy to get more renters voting on Election Day: require landlords to provide voter registration information each time they rent to a new tenant.
Frey is still formalizing his plan, but he said the idea is to reach out to people who move frequently and often don't keep their voter registration up to date -- or don't register at all. He expects such a move would have a big impact on registration among young people, students, the elderly and people of color.
"Between the ages of 19 and 25, you're moving practically every year sometimes," he said. "Even the most civically engaged people can easily forget to register."
Frey said the city could provide landlords with voter registration forms and information each time they renew their rental license. They'd then be required to pass it along to new tenants when they move in. The information would be there and waiting, Frey said, like a mint left on a hotel pillow for when guests check in.
Minneapolis would not be the first city to experiment with such a strategy. Madison, Wisconsin, approved a similar requirement in 2012, but it was repealed two years later when state lawmakers approved a bill banning such measures in any city.
In suburban Denver, the city of Westminster weighed a proposal that received mixed reviews, with some negative feedback from landlords. The city ultimately decided to scrap the plan and instead send out direct mailings with voter registration information to all rental tenants in the city.