Voter participation is paramount to a strong democracy. As access to voting has been under attack across the country, in particular on the state and federal level, there are multiple ways cities can help expand voting for its residents. Actions include building infrastructure, helping residents gain needed documents to register, creating accessible early voting locations, sustaining outreach and registration, and lowering the voting age for local elections. By finding creative ways to engage a residents, they can play an integral part in enfranchising voters and strengthening our democracy.
What Cities Can Do
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Takoma Park, MD has not only had non-US citizen voting since 1993 in local elections, but they also recently lowered their voting age to 16 in local elections. The goal is to engage youth into the political process at a much earlier age.
Education and Outreach
Minneapolis, MN passed an ordinance that requires property owners and managers to provide all new tenants with information about how to register to vote at the time they move in. This is in addition to extensive voter outreach and education efforts.
East Lansing, MI has also passed a city ordinance, requiring landlords to provide voter registration information and forms to new tenants.
Houston, TX has been “Serving Up Voter Registration.” They’ve worked with Taco food trucks to help in voter registration efforts.
To get young voters registered in Broward County, FL, they launched a high school registration drive for those of age, and passed their goal.
New York, NY integrated voter registration into every interaction a resident has with a city agency.
Seattle, WA launched a Mayors Task Force on political participation by immigrant communities. This was one of the first steps of a multi-approach effort to grow voter and civic participation.
Madison, WI has a robust early voting process, which helped it become the only municipality in the state to see an increase in voter turnout in the 2016 fall election cycle. The goal was to make voting as accessible as they can.
Getting to the Polls
Getting to and from the voting booth can be a tough task for many. Because of that, Durham, NC launched GoDurham providing free bus rides on election day.