Representatives García, Scanlon, and Williams Introduce Our Homes Our Votes Act to Facilitate Voter Registration in Affordable Housing

March 29, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) and Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) introduced the Our Homes Our Votes Act, a bill that facilitates voter registration for residents of federally subsidized housing by allowing them to register to vote as they sign their lease and verify their income. The bill has 26 original cosponsors.

The provisions of the Our Homes Our Votes Act mirror the popular National Voter Registration Act of 1993 or “Motor Voter Law,” which allows eligible voters to register to vote directly at the DMV as they obtain or renew their drivers’ license. This bill extends the concept to tenants in subsidized housing administered by a public housing authority who, like customers at the DMV, have already had their identity and residence vetted by public authorities.

The Our Homes Our Votes Act:

  • Allows eligible and interested tenants in housing administered by a Public Housing Agency (PHA) to register to vote as they sign their lease document and verify their income without providing duplicate information;
  • Requires PHA’s to transmit these voter registration forms to local election authorities in a timely manner;
  • Designates private landlords of subsidized housing as “voter registration agents” responsible for distributing voter registration forms and helping tenants fill them out if needed.

“The right to vote is fundamental to democracy and it should be easy, convenient, and secure. The Our Homes Our Votes Act cuts out duplicative processes and allows residents of federally subsidized housing to register to vote when they sign their lease. 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,” said Congressman García. “This bill is common sense and ensures the most vulnerable among us have a voice in our public policy. 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.”

“When we make it easier for eligible voters to register and vote, more people are able to make their voices heard and claim their power in our democracy,” Congresswoman Scanlon said. “This bill 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.”

"Tenants of public and subsidized housing are often the most marginalized members of our communities,” said Congresswoman Williams. “The Our Homes, Our Votes Act gives people the option to register to vote as they fill out their housing documents. Congress should always work to make it easier to vote, not harder. I am proud to help lead this commonsense legislation that will strengthen our democracy and uplift marginalized members of the community."

The Our Homes, Our Votes Act is a simple solution to one of the most persistent voter disparities in our democracy,” said Diane Yentel, president & CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The voices of the lowest-income renters must be represented in our elections and renters care deeply about voting, but face more barriers to doing so successfully. Renters typically move more frequently than homeowners, and have to update their voter registration at each new address. This bill will help address barriers to voting for low-income tenants, and make clear to all public housing agencies and other federally assisted housing providers that voter registration is an important part of the lease-up process. We applaud Representatives Chuy García, Mary Gay Scanlon, and Nikema Williams for their leadership on this innovative proposal. Our democracy is strongest when it includes the most voices; the Our Homes, Our Votes Act will boost the participation of low-income renters in a meaningful and impactful way.”