Voter registration requires 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. Voter registration and participation are crucial for the nation’s democracy to function properly and for the U.S. government to provide fair representation.
About 66.8% of U.S. citizens 18 and older voted in the 2020 presidential election, the highest voter turnout of the 21st century. Despite COVID-19 concerns, 158.4 million people voted in the election. This is a significant improvement from the 2016 presidential election, where 139 million people voted, and almost 92 million eligible Americans did not vote. Moreover, in the 2020 election, voter turnout increased in every state compared to 2016.
According to the Census Bureau, voter registration and turnout are also affected by race, age, educational attainment, and other factors. Some pro-voter policies that have shown to increase voter registration and participation are: automatic voter registration., same-day voter registration, preregistration, online registration, early voting, no-excuse absentee voting and vote-by-mail, and restoring rights for formerly incarcerated people. According to the Pew Research Center, seven of the ten states that saw the largest increase in voter turnout conducted the 2020 election mostly or entirely by mail.
% of Voting Age Pop. Registered 🔽
|District of Columbia||86.9%|
The first step to increasing the number of people who vote in elections is to increase the number who are able to do so. This means that there must be an increase in register voters. North Dakota is the only U.S. state that does not require voter registration for federal or state elections. However, voter registration is required for some city elections. Voters must provide ID and proof of entitlement to vote at the polling place in order to vote.
Some states have a high percentage of the eligible population registered to vote. In the District of Columbia, 86.9% of eligible voters are registered to vote. New Jersey, Minnesota, and Mississippi all have at least 80% of eligible residents registered to vote. Thirty one states have a registered voter percentage of 70-80%.
Of those states with less than 70% of eligible residents registered to vote, most are located in the south or midwest. California has 18,001,000 registered voters, but because of the large population of the state, this makes up only 69.4% of eligible voters. The same is true in Florida, where 67.1% of eligible residents are registered to vote, a total of 10,495,000 Floridians. Arkansas is the state with the lowest percentage of registered voters, at 62.0%
Registered Voters (thousands)
% of Voting Age Pop. Registered
|District of Columbia||464||86.9%|