Measure requiring landlords to provide voter registration info moves ahead

Minneapolis landlords would be required to provide tenants voter registration information under a measure approved by the City Council’s Community Development & Regulatory Services Committee on Tuesday.

The full Council will vote on the proposal Sept. 25. If approved, it would take effect March 1, 2016.

The City of Minneapolis would provide landlords with the voter registration information to distribute to tenants.

Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Carl said the goal is to increase voter turnout among the city’s renters, who are often highly mobile. He cited Pew Research Center info indicating that one in four eligible voters in the U.S. are not registered to vote.

Studies have also shown that registration challenges disproportionately impact young voters, highly mobile people (renters, students and military families, among others), and communities of color, according to a report Carl presented to the Council committee.

City Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) said the benefits of the measure far outweigh the inconvenience it could cause landlords.

“This is a common sense solution that would equate to a mint on your pillow when you check into your hotel room,” he said.

A couple of landlords who testified at a public hearing Tuesday disagreed, however.

Cecil Smith, owner of Cornerstone Property Professionals, argued that while the requirement might seem like a small task, it sets a precedent that could require landlords to perform other non-housing related tasks in the future.

He suggested the city mail the information to renters instead of requiring landlords to pass on the materials.