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Voter registration proposal approved by Common Council in effort to increase voter participation

A resolution that aims to increase voter registration opportunities via City workers was approved unanimously on December 18 by the Milwaukee Common Council.

The measure directs the Election Commission to implement a program to train and certify all City of Milwaukee employees who interact with the public to register Milwaukee residents to vote.

While there are currently voting registration options via City centers, such as kiosks in libraries and health centers, lead sponsor Alderman Khalif Rainey wanted every possible avenue explored to further create a strong electorate.

Once signed into the law, the resolution gives the Milwaukee Department of Employee Relations 60 days to present to the Common Council a plan to augment voter registration possibilities with applicable City employees. After that proposal is adopted by the Council, the Milwaukee Election Commission has 30 days to implement the plan.

Alderman Rainey cited the major turnout during the November 6 election as a sign of the tremendous desire for civic engagement by local residents, despite more restrictive state policies related to voter registration and casting a ballot.

“It’s unfortunate that policies approved at the state level have sought to create barriers with regard to voting,” said Alderman Rainey. “That’s why we are doing whatever we can at the City level to create more opportunities for residents to exercise their right to vote.”

The issue of expanding voting opportunities is front and center for Alderman Rainey. He is sponsoring separate legislation directing city lobbyists to seek a change in federal law through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to allow housing authorities the ability to create voter registration programs for its residents.

He has also been in communication with the Office of Congresswoman Gwen Moore for clarification as to whether current federal law precludes local agencies such as Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee from creating voter registration programs for its residents.

“What is important here is that we continue this conversation looking at ways to enhance this housing authority resource so more people can participate in the democratic process,” added Alderman Rainey.

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