The Mount Rainier City Council approved charter changes last week merging the city's four wards into two and simplifying voter registration procedures.

The ward redistricting is the first since the city was founded in 1910, said council member Doyle Niemann.

Two council members will now be elected from each ward; until now, one member has been elected from each of the four wards.

Niemann said the changes were made because the population is no longer divided equally among the wards.

He said about 75 percent of the residents live in wards 3 and 4, and the rest in wards 1 and 2.

The council also approved a change giving officials the option of allowing Mount Rainier residents who are registered to vote in the county to qualify automatically to vote in city elections.

The charter currently requires city residents to register separately to vote in city elections.

Niemann said the change could boost the number of registered voters in the city from the current 800 to more than 4,000.

The council also approved a resolution giving officials more flexibility in setting voter registration procedures.

The charter currently does not allow for mechanical voting booths, which Niemann said may be needed if the number of voters in the city increases.

To put the voter registration changes into effect, the council must also pass an ordinance, which Niemann said he would sponsor.