Voter registration is the requirement that a person eligible to vote registers on an electoral roll before that person is entitled or permitted to vote. Voter registration may be automatic or may require each eligible person to submit an application. Registration varies between jurisdictions.
Almost 92 million eligible Americans did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. Voter registration and participation are crucial for the nation’s democracy to function properly and for the US government to provide fair representation.
Low voter registration numbers and low voter turnout can be the result of several factors. To increase voter registration and participation, barriers to registering to vote, and barriers to voting must be eliminated, such as additional restrictions on identification forms and reforms to ensure all eligible ballots will be securely counted. Additionally, those alienated from the democratic process or discouraged from voting must feel that their voice is heard by their leaders and encouraged to participate in elections.
Some pro-voter policies that have shown to increase voter registration and participation are:
- Automatic voter registration.
- Same-day voter registration.
- Online registration.
- Early voting.
- No-excuse absentee voting and vote-by-mail.
- Restoring rights for formerly incarcerated people.
While California has the highest number of registered voters at 15,690,000, the state has the second-lowest percentage of registered voters when compared to its total population. Registered voters in California make up 51.90% of its total population. Hawaii has the lowest percentage of 49.50%.
Maine has the highest percentage of registered voters of 77.10% (828,000) registered voters. Only nine states and the District of Columbia have percentages of registered voters of 70% or higher.