Voter Registration: Past, Present, and Future

Working Paper No.: 
30
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
R. Michael Alvarez

The Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project identified problems with voter registration as a pressing problem in the 2000 presidential election; between 1.5 and 3 million votes were lost due to voter registration problems in that election. Voter registration is a central component of the election management process in the United States, and is an important foundation for how elections are administered. There have been two major efforts to reform voter registration practices at the federal level in recent decades, and despite those reforms there are still significant short and long term issues regarding voter registration practices in the United States. These issues include:

  • Continuing to find new ways to make the voter registration process easier for eligible citizens while also making the process more secure
  • Fixing provisional balloting
  • Scrutinizing computerized statewide voter registration files
  • Carefully studying HAVA voter registration requirements and how they work
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