The Seattle City Council has approved a new ordinance that requires landlords to provide new tenants with voter-registration information, according to reports.
Currently when new tenants move in, landlords are already required to give them a large number of documents prepared by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), that outlines their rights as tenants. The documents amount to about 15 pages, and the new voter ordinance would add two more pages to what landlords need to provide. Landlords have the option of downloading the packet online and printing it out.
The council passed the new ordinance by a vote of 6-0.
The ordinance has met with a mixed reaction from landlord groups.
The Rental Housing Association of Washington said in a statement that they are not opposed to the ordinance but that it prioritizes one group of citizens over another, and that the City Council should “broaden the scope” to include homeowners.
City should not just pick on landlords but require new homeowners to register also
“One group of citizens should not be prioritized over another,” the rental housing council said on its website blog, “which is why RHAWA calls on City Council to more thoughtfully enhance its voter registration legislation to include all citizens of our city, and to be a fair and willing partner with landlords by acknowledging that it, too, can play a role in enhancing the functioning of our democracy.”
“While homeowners are more likely to be registered, data also shows that far less than 100% of homeowners are registered,” the rent housing council said on its website. “City voter registration outreach, at a starting point, should be enhanced by including this same information with all utility bills, at all city-endorsed events, and included with all city emails.”
The rental housing association has already sued the City of Seattle over other ordinances that place a burden on landlords, and the association says in a tweet this is just one more. Prior to the passage of this newest ordinance the association said, “How many more pieces of paper will Seattle require landlords to give renters? Will notebooks be provided? the association asked in a tweet.
According to reports the new ordinance will take effect 30 days after Mayor Ed Murray signs it, a council spokesman told the Seattle Times.
People who move vote at lower rates
Studies have shown that people on the move vote at lower rates, the ordinance says. While 41 percent of renters in their homes for more than five years reported voting in 2014, only 21 percent who had lived in their homes for less than one year reported voting, the ordinance says, citing U.S. Census Bureau data.
Seattle is the fastest-growing big city in the country, according to a Seattle Times analysis of Census Bureau data released this past month. From July 2015 through July 2016, the city had a net gain of nearly 21,000 people — 57 per day, on average.
Representatives from a number of community and nonprofit organizations supported the ordinance, including the Tenants Union of Washington, the Capitol Hill Community Council, and others.