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Democrats introduce bill seeking to protect voting rights of people in subsidized housing

Democrats introduce bill seeking to protect voting rights of people in subsidized housing

House Democrats have introduced legislation that would allow residents of federally subsidized housing to register to vote when they fill out their lease and verify their income.

The bill, dubbed Our Homes Our Votes Act, was introduced by Democratic Reps. Jesús García (Ill.), Mary Gay ScanlonMary Gay ScanlonDemocrats introduce bill seeking to protect voting rights of people in subsidized housing Trump lawyer sued him for 'repeated claims' mail voting ripe with fraud Pelosi announces lawmakers will be fined ,000 if they bypass metal detectors to House floor MORE (Pa.) and Nikema Williams (Ga.) on Monday. It currently has 26 cosponsors. 

If passed, the bill would allow eligible voters that reside in housing administered by a Public Housing Agency (PHA) to register to vote when they sign their lease and verify their income.

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The agencies would be required under the legislation to then transmit the registration forms to the proper local election officials. The bill also designates private landlords for subsidized housing as “voter registration agents” and would make them “responsible for distributing voter registration forms and helping tenants fill them out if needed,” an announcement detailing the bill stated.

Some of the bill’s provisions are similar to those seen in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which allows people eligible to vote to register to do so when they go to obtain or renew their drivers’ licenses.

Scanlon said in a statement that the legislation “builds upon the foundation established by the National Voter Registration Act by expanding voter registration opportunities.”

“If you can register to vote while updating your driver's license, why can’t you when signing a lease at a Public Housing Agency? It's just that simple,” she continued.

“Tenants of public and subsidized housing are often the most marginalized members of our communities,” the freshman Democrat said, adding that Congress “should always work to make it easier to vote, not harder.’

“Tenants already have their identity and residence verified when certifying eligibility for public housing so there’s no reason to not be able to register to vote at the same time,” García said.

“This bill is common sense and ensures the most vulnerable among us have a voice in our public policy,” he add. “Instead of erecting barriers to voting, Congress should be making it easier to vote, especially for working-class, Latino, Black, or marginalized communities like the ones I represent in Chicago.”

The legislation, which was previously introduced by García and Scanlon last December, comes as the issue of voting rights has taken center stage in recent weeks as Republican-led legislatures across the country have passed measures including provisions that would restrict voting access.