Political Participation: Voter Turnout and Registration

Image A is of a tour bus driving along a road. Print on the back of the bus reads

Rock the Vote works with musicians and other celebrities across the country to encourage and register young people to vote (a). Sheryl Crow was one of Rock the Vote’s strongest supporters in the 2008 election, subsequently performing at the Midwest Inaugural Ball in January 2009 (b). (Credit a: modification of work by Jeff Kramer; Credit b: modification of work by “cliff1066″/Flickr)

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the concept of voter turnout.
  • Analyze reasons for low voter turnout in the United States.
  • Understand the registration process to become eligible to vote.
  • Identify factors that motivate registered voters to vote.
  • Discuss both past and current circumstances that prevent citizens from voting.

Counting Voters and Voter Turnout

One of the key acts of civic participation is voting in elections. In fact, voting is clearly a necessary condition–that is, you cannot have a representative republic without voting. Low voter turnout has long caused concern and frustration. A healthy society is expected to be filled with civically engaged citizens who vote regularly and participate in the electoral process.

Calculating voter turnout begins by counting how many ballots were cast in a particular election. These votes must be cast on time, either by mail or in person. The next step is to count how many people could have voted in the same election. The voting-age population (VAP) consists of persons who are eighteen and older. Some of these persons may not be eligible to vote in their state, but they are included because they are of age to do so.[1]

There are many ways to measure voter turnout depending on whether we calculate it using the total population, the voting-age population (VAP), the voting-eligible population (VEP), or the total number of registered voters. OFFICIAL 2016 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS; General Election Date: 11/08/2016 estimates from United States Census Bureau and the Federal Election Commission.

There are many ways to measure voter turnout depending on whether we calculate it using the total population, the voting-age population (VAP), the voting-eligible population (VEP), or the total number of registered voters. (Credit: OFFICIAL 2016 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS; General Election Date: 11/08/2016 estimates from United States Census Bureau and the Federal Election Commission)

[2]

An even smaller group is the voting-eligible population (VEP), citizens eighteen and older who, whether they have registered or not, are eligible to vote because they are citizens, mentally competent, and not imprisoned. If a state has more stringent requirements, such as not having a felony conviction, citizens counted in the VEP must meet those criteria as well. This population is much harder to measure, but statisticians who use the VEP will generally take the VAP and subtract the state’s prison population and any other known group that cannot vote. This results in a number that is somewhat theoretical; however, in a way, it is more accurate when determining voter turnout.[3]

The last and smallest population is registered voters, who, as the name implies, are citizens currently registered to vote. Now we can appreciate how reports of voter turnout can vary. Although 87 percent of registered voters voted in the 2012 presidential election, this represents only 42 percent of the total U.S. population. While 42 percent is indeed low and might cause alarm, some people included in it are under eighteen, not citizens, or unable to vote due to competency or prison status. The next number shows that just over 57 percent of the voting-age population voted, and 60 percent of the voting-eligible population. The best turnout ratio is calculated using the smallest population: 87 percent of registered voters voted. Those who argue that a healthy democracy needs high voter turnout will look at the voting-age population or voting-eligible population as proof that the United States has a problem. Those who believe only informed and active citizens should vote point to the registered voter turnout numbers instead.

There are several prominent reasons for low national turnout in the United States. First of all, participation is not mandated. Some countries, such as Belgium and Turkey, have compulsory voting laws, which require citizens to vote in elections or pay a fine. This helps the two countries attain VAP turnouts of 87 percent and 86 percent, respectively, compared to the U.S. turnout of 55.7 percent. Chile’s decision to move from compulsory voting to voluntary voting caused a drop in participation from 87 percent to 46 percent.[4]

Since it is unlikely that the United States would ever mandate voting, comparison with one other significant factor–automatic registration of voters–can be identified as a major explanation of U.S. low turn-out when calculated by the voting age population (VAP). That is, for example, Sweden and Germany automatically register their voters, and 83 percent and 66 percent vote, respectively. United States’ voting turnout in 2016 was estimated at approximately 86-87 percent. The U.S. system, which requires personal action on the part of the individual to become eligible to vote (registering), is clearly a factor in explaining lower voter turnout of the voting age population.

Bar graph showing voting trends in 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2016 by total population, voting eligible population, voting age population, and registered voters.

link to learningDo you wonder what voter turnout looks like in other developed countries? Visit the Pew Research Center report on international voting turnout to find out.

 

Who Is Allowed to Register?

In order to register to be eligible to vote in the United States, a person must be a citizen, resident, and eighteen years old. But states often place additional registration requirements on the right to vote or to be part of the voting-eligible population (VEP). The most common requirement is that voters must be mentally competent and not currently serving time in jail. Some states enforce more stringent or unusual requirements on citizens who have committed crimes. Florida and Kentucky permanently bar felons and ex-felons from voting unless they obtain a pardon from the governor, while Mississippi and Nevada allow former felons to apply to have their voting rights restored.[5]

On the other end of the spectrum, Vermont does not limit voting based on incarceration unless the crime was election fraud.[6] Maine citizens serving in Maine prisons also may vote in elections.

Beyond those jailed, some citizens have additional expectations placed on them when they register to vote. Wisconsin requires that voters “not wager on an election,” and Vermont citizens must recite the “Voter’s Oath” before they register, swearing to cast votes with a conscience and “without fear or favor of any person.”[7]

How Does Someone Register to Vote?

In all states except North Dakota, a citizen wishing to vote must complete an application. Whether the form is online or on paper, the prospective voter will list his/her name, residency address, and in many cases party identification (with Independent as an option) and affirm that he or she is competent to vote. States may also have a residency requirement, which establishes how long a citizen must live in a state before becoming eligible to register, often 30 days. Beyond these requirements, there may be an oath administered or more questions asked, such as felony convictions. If the application is completely online and the citizen has government documents (e.g., driver’s license or state identification card), the system will compare the application to other state records and accept an online signature or affidavit if everything matches. Citizens who do not have these state documents are often required to complete paper applications. States without online registration often allow a citizen to fill out an application on a website, but the citizen will receive a paper copy in the mail to sign and mail back to the state.

Another aspect of registering to vote is the timeline. States may require registration to take place as much as thirty days before voting, or they may allow same-day registration. Maine first implemented same-day registration in 1973. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia now allow voters to register the day of the election if they have proof of residency, such as a driver’s license or utility bill. Many of the more populous states (e.g., Michigan and Texas), require registration forms to be mailed thirty days before an election. Moving means citizens must re-register or update addresses. College students, for example, may have to re-register or update addresses each year as they move. States that use same-day registration had a 4 percent higher voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election than states that did not.[8]

An image of a Notice of Change of Address

Moving requires a voter to re-register or update his or her address in the system. Depending on the state, this notification can sometimes be completed through the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Credit: Image incorporated by OpenStax)

Voter Registration

Before most voters are allowed to cast a ballot, they must register to vote in their state. This process may be as simple as checking a box on a driver’s license application (Motor-Voter Act) or as difficult as filling out a long form with complicated questions.[9]

Congress enacted the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also known as the “NVRA” and the “Motor Voter Act“), to enhance voting opportunities for every American. The Act has made it easier for all Americans to register to vote and to maintain their registration. In addition to whatever other methods of voter registration which States offer, the Act requires states to provide the opportunity to apply to register to vote for federal elections by three means: Section 5 of the Act requires states to provide individuals with the opportunity to register to vote at the same time that they apply for a driver’s license or seek to renew a driver’s license, and requires the State to forward the completed application to the appropriate state of local election official.[10]

Section 7 of the Act requires states to offer voter registration opportunities at all offices that provide public assistance and all offices that provide state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities. Each applicant for any of these services, renewal of services, or address changes must be provided with a voter registration form of a declination form as well as assistance in completing the form and forwarding the completed application to the appropriate state or local election official. Section 6 of the Act provides that citizens can register to vote by mail using mail-in-forms developed by each state and the Election Assistance Commission.[11]

link to learningInterested in mobilizing voters? Explore Rock the VoteThe Voter Participation Center and True the Vote for more information.

 

Voter Registration Across the United States

Elections are state-by-state contests. General elections for president and statewide offices (e.g., governor and U.S. senator) are often organized and paid for by the states. Because political cultures vary from state to state, the process of voter registration varies.

Many states have sought methods of increasing voter registration. In 2002, Arizona was the first state to offer online voter registration, which allowed citizens with a driver’s license to register to vote without any paper application or signature. The system matches the information on the application to information stored at the Department of Motor Vehicles, to ensure each citizen is registering to vote in the right precinct. Citizens without a driver’s license still need to file a paper application. More than eighteen states have moved to online registration. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates, however, that adopting an online voter registration system can initially cost a state between $250,000 and $750,000.[12]

Other states have decided against online registration due to concerns about voter fraud and security. Legislators also argue that online registration makes it difficult to ensure that only citizens are registering and that they are registering in the correct precincts. A bill to move registration online in Florida stalled for over a year in the legislature, based on security concerns. In other states, such as Texas, both the government and citizens are concerned about identity fraud, so traditional paper registration is still preferred.

Some attempts have been made to streamline voter registration. As previously noted, Motor-Voter was enacted to expedite the registration process, allowing citizens to register to vote when they sign up for driver’s licenses and Social Security benefits. On each government form, the citizen need only mark an additional box to also register to vote. Unfortunately, while increasing registrations by 7 percent between 1992 and 2012, Motor-Voter did not dramatically increase voter turnout.[13] In fact, for two years following the passage of the act, voter turnout decreased slightly.[14]

It appears that the main users of the expedited system were those already intending to vote. One study, however, found that preregistration may have a different effect on youth than on the overall voter pool; in Florida, it increased turnout of young voters by 13 percent.[15]

In 2015, Oregon made news when it took the concept of Motor-Voter further. When citizens turn eighteen, the state now automatically registers most of them using driver’s license and state identification information. When a citizen moves, the voter rolls are updated when the license is updated. While this policy has been controversial, with some arguing that private information may become public or that Oregon is moving toward mandatory voting.[16]

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) was passed in order to reform voting across the states and reduce these problems. As part of the Act, states were required to update voting equipment, make voting more accessible to those with accessibility challenges, and maintain computerized voter rolls that could be updated regularly.[17]

Over a decade later, there has been some progress. In Louisiana, voters are placed on ineligible lists if a voting registrar is notified that they have moved or become ineligible to vote. If the voter remains on this list for two general elections, his or her registration is cancelled. In Oklahoma, the registrar receives a list of deceased residents from the Department of Health.[18]

Twenty-nine states now participate in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which allows states to check for duplicate registrations.[19]

link to learningThe National Association of Secretaries of State maintains a website that directs users to their state’s information regarding voter registration, identification policies, and polling locations.

 

What Factors Drive Voter Turnout?

Those who are registered and did vote in the last election are likely to have a strong interest in politics and elections and will vote again, provided they are not angry with the political system or politicians.

Younger people are often still in college, perhaps working part-time and earning low wages. They are unlikely to be receiving government benefits beyond Pell Grants or government-subsidized tuition and loans. They are also unlikely to be paying taxes at a high rate. Government is a distant concept rather than a daily concern, which may drive down turnout.

In 2012, for example, the Census Bureau reported that only 53.6 percent of eligible voters between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four registered and 41.2 percent voted, while 79.7 percent of sixty-five to seventy-four-year-olds registered and 73.5 percent voted.[20]

Image A is of John McCain speaking to a group of people. Several people are holding signs that read

On January 7, 2008, John McCain campaigned in New Hampshire among voters holding AARP signs (a). AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, is one of the most influential interest groups because senior citizens are known to vote at nearly double the rate of young people (b), thanks in part to their increased reliance on government programs as they age. (Credit a: modification of work by Ryan Glenn)

A line graph titled Voting Rates Over Time for the Voting-Age Population: 1964–2012

“Vote or Die? Well, They Did Vote.” (Credit: Jose Antonio Vargas, Washington Post, 9 November 2004; Melissa Dahl. 5 November 2008. “Youth Vote May Have Been Key in Obama’s Win,” http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27525497/ns/politics-decision_08/t/youth-vote-may-have-been-key-obamas-win/)

A citizen’s socioeconomic status—the combination of education, income, and social status—may also predict whether he or she will vote. Among those who have completed college, the 2012 voter turnout rate jumps to 75 percent of eligible voters, compared to about 52.6 percent for those who have completed only high school.[21]

This is due in part to the powerful effect of education, one of the strongest predictors of voting turnout. Income also has a strong effect on the likelihood of voting. Citizens earning $100,000 to $149,999 a year are very likely to vote and 76.9 percent of them do, while only 50.4 percent of those who earn $15,000 to $19,999 vote.[22]

Once high income and college education are combined, the resulting high socioeconomic status strongly predicts the likelihood that a citizen will vote.

Race is also a factor. Caucasians turn out to vote in the highest numbers, with 63 percent of white citizens voting in 2012. In comparison, 62 percent of African Americans, 31.3 percent of Asian Americans, and 31.8 percent of Hispanic citizens voted in 2012. Voting turnout can increase or decrease based upon the political culture of a state. Hispanics, for example, often vote in higher numbers in states where there has historically been higher Hispanic involvement and representation, such as New Mexico, where 49 percent of Hispanic voters turned out in 2012.[23]

Suffragettes voting; between 1920 and 1921 provided by the National Photo Company on the negative or negative sleeve; Repository Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA Digital Id npcc 29566 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.29566 Control Number npc2008010067; No known restrictions on publication.

Suffragettes voting. (Credit: National Photo Company; Repository Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA Digital Id npcc 29566 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.29566 Control Number npc2008010067; No known restrictions on publication)

While less of a factor today, gender had historically been a factor in voter turnout. After 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, women began slowly turning out to vote, and now they do so in high numbers. Today, more women vote than men. In 2012, 59.7 percent of men and 63.7 percent of women reported voting.[24]

link to learningCheck out this website to find out who is voting and who is not voting.

 

What Factors Decrease Voter Turnout?

Just as political scientists and campaign managers worry about who does vote, they also look at why people choose to stay home on Election Day. Over the years, studies have explored why a citizen might not vote, even though they are registered to vote. The reasons range from the obvious excuse of being too busy (19 percent) to more complex answers, such as transportation problems (3.3 percent) and restrictive registration laws (5.5 percent).[25]

One reason for not voting in the past was that polling places were open only on Election Day. This makes it difficult for voters juggling school, work, and child care during polling hours. Many states have tried to address this problem with early voting, which opens polling places as much as two weeks early. Texas opened polling places on weekdays and weekends in 1988 and initially saw an increase in voting in gubernatorial and presidential elections, although the impact tapered off over time.[26] Other states with early voting, however, showed a decline in turnout, possibly because there is less social pressure to vote when voting is spread over several days.[27]

An image of several people standing in line outside of a building. A sign near the front of the line and the building entrance reads

On February 5, 2008, dubbed “Super Duper Tuesday” by the press, twenty-four states held caucuses or primary elections—the largest simultaneous number of state presidential primary elections in U.S. history. As a result, over half the Democratic delegates were allocated unusually early in the election season. This polling station, on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California, had long lines, commonly seen only on Election Day, and nearly ran out of Democratic ballots. (Credit: Josh Thompson)

In a similar effort, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington have moved to a mail-only voting system in which there are no polling locations, only mailed ballots. These states have seen a rise in turnout, with Colorado’s numbers increasing from 1.8 million votes in the 2010 congressional elections to 2 million votes in the 2014 congressional elections.[28]

Apathy may also play a role. Some people avoid voting because their vote is unlikely to make a difference or the election is not competitive. If one party has a clear majority in a state or district, for instance, members of the minority party may see no reason to vote. Democrats in Utah and Republicans in California are so outnumbered that they are unlikely to affect the outcome of an election, and they may opt to stay home. Because the presidential candidate with the highest number of popular votes receives all of Utah’s and California’s electoral votes, there is little incentive for some citizens to vote: they will never change the outcome of the state-level election. These citizens, as well as those who vote for third parties like the Green Party or the Libertarian Party, are sometimes referred to as the chronic minority. While third-party candidates sometimes win local or state office or even dramatize an issue for national discussion, such as when Ross Perot discussed the national debt during his campaign as an independent presidential candidate in 1992, they never win national elections.

Finally, some voters may view non-voting as a means of social protest or may see volunteering as a better way to spend their time. Younger voters are more likely to volunteer their time rather than vote, believing that serving others is more important than voting.[29]

Possibly related to this choice is voter fatigue. In many states, due to our federal structure with elections at many levels of government, voters may vote many times per year on ballots filled with candidates and issues to research. The less time there is between elections, the lower the turnout.[30]

Where to Register: A special problem for students?

Across the United States, over twenty million college and university students begin classes each fall, many away from home. The simple act of moving away to college presents a voter registration problem. Elections are local. Each citizen lives in a district with state legislators, city council or other local elected representatives, a U.S. House of Representatives member, and more. State and national laws require voters to reside in their districts, but students are an unusual case. They often hold temporary residency while at school and return home for the summer. Therefore, they have to decide whether to register to vote near campus or vote back in their home district.

Maintaining voter registration back home is legal in most states, assuming a student holds only temporary residency at school. This may be the best plan, because students are likely more familiar with local politicians and issues. But it requires the student to either go home to vote or apply for an absentee ballot. With classes, clubs, work, and more, it may be difficult to remember this task. One study found that students living more than two hours from home were less likely to vote than students living within thirty minutes of campus, which is not surprising.[31]

Image A is of two people sitting behind a table. A cloth sign hanging in front of the table reads

On National Voter Registration Day in 2012, Roshaunda McLean (a, left), campus director of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, and David Vaughn (a, right), a Missouri Student Association senator, register voters on campus. Cassie Dorman (b, left) and Samantha Peterson (b, right), both eighteen years old, were just two of the University of Missouri students registering to vote for the first time. (Credit a, b: modification of work by “KOMUnews”/Flickr)

Voting Rights: History and Controversy

The varied registration and voting laws across the United States cause controversy. In the aftermath of the Civil War, some states enacted literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and other requirements intended to disenfranchise poor and black voters in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Literacy tests were long and detailed exams on local and national politics, history, and more. They were often administered arbitrarily with more blacks required to take them than whites.[32]

Poll taxes required voters to pay a fee to vote. Grandfather clauses exempted individuals from taking literacy tests or paying poll taxes if they or their fathers or grandfathers had been permitted to vote prior to a certain point in time. While the Supreme Court determined that grandfather clauses were unconstitutional in 1915, states continued to use poll taxes and literacy tests to deter potential voters from registering.[33]

Some states ignored instances of violence and intimidation against African Americans wanting to register or vote.[34]

Black and white people voting together, Warren K. Leffler, photographer, 6 November 1962, U.S. News & World Report magazine photograph collection, Library of Congress, no known restrictions on publication at https://www.loc.gov/item/2016646466/.

Black and white people voting together. (Credit: Warren K. Leffler, photographer, 6 November 1962, U.S. News & World Report magazine photograph collection, Library of Congress, no known restrictions on publication at https://www.loc.gov/item/2016646466/)

The ratification of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment in 1964 ended poll taxes, but the passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965 had a more profound effect. The act protected minority voters by prohibiting state laws denying voting rights. The VRA gave the attorney general of the United States authority to order federal examiners to areas with a history of discrimination. These examiners had the power to oversee and monitor voter registration and elections. States violating or sometimes suspected of violating the VRA were required to get any changes in their election laws approved by the U.S. attorney general or by going through the court system.

Image A is an official document. The text is unreadable. Image B is of a group of people, including Lyndon B. John, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks.

The Voting Rights Act (a) was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson (b/left) on August 6, 1965, in the presence of major figures of the civil rights movement, including Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. (b/center). (Credit: images incorporated by OpenStax)

The effects of the VRA were visible almost immediately. In Mississippi, only 6.7 percent of blacks were registered to vote in 1965; however, by the fall of 1967, nearly 60 percent were registered. Alabama experienced similar effects, with African American registration increasing from 19.3 percent to 51.6 percent. Voter turnout across these two states similarly increased. Mississippi went from 33.9 percent turnout to 53.2 percent, while Alabama increased from 35.9 percent to 52.7 percent between the 1964 and 1968 presidential elections.[35]

Voter turnout may be affected by voter identification laws, such as requiring a voter to show a photo identification such as a driver’s license to verify their identity at the polling place. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups argue an unfair burden on people who are poor, older, or have limited finances (who may not have a photo ID), while states argue it would prevent fraud. In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008), the Supreme Court decided that Indiana’s voter identification requirement was constitutional.[36] Journalists discovered that many states, including Florida, had large numbers of phantom voters on their rolls, voters had moved or died but remained on the states’ voter registration rolls.[37]

In 2011, Texas passed a photo identification law for voters, allowing concealed-handgun permits as identification. The Texas law was blocked by the Obama administration before it could be implemented, because Texas was on the Voting Rights Act’s pre-clearance list. Other states, such as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, and Virginia similarly had laws and districting changes blocked.[38]

As a result, Shelby County, Alabama, and several other states sued the U.S. attorney general, arguing the Voting Rights Act’s pre-clearance list was unconstitutional and that the formula that determined whether states had violated the VRA was outdated. In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Supreme Court agreed. In a 5–4 decision, the justices in the majority said the formula for placing states on the VRA pre-clearance list was outdated and reached into the states’ authority to oversee elections.[39] States and counties on the pre-clearance list were released, and Congress was told to design new guidelines for placing states on the list.

questions to Consider

  1. What challenges do college students face regarding voter registration?

  2. Have you registered to vote in your college area or back home?

  3. What factors influence your decision about where to vote?

  4. What recommendations would you make to increase voter turnout in the United States?

  5. Why does age affect whether a citizen will vote?

  6. If you were going to predict whether your classmates would vote in the next election, what questions would you ask them?

Terms to Remember

early voting–an accommodation that allows voting up to two weeks before Election Day

Motor Voter Act–federal law making it easier for Americans to register to vote and to maintain registration by requiring states to provide individuals with an opportunity to register at the same time they apply for, change, or renew a driver’s license

registered voters–citizens who have taken the necessary steps to place and maintain themselves on voter registration rolls to be able to participate by voting in elections

residency requirement–which establishes how long a citizen must live in a state before becoming eligible to register, often 30 days

socioeconomic status— combination of education, income, and social status of an individual or group

voter fatigue–the result when voters grow tired of voting and stay home from the polls

voter identification laws–requiring a voter to show a photo ID such as a driver’s license in order to verify identity at the polling place

voter turnout–number of citizens voting in a given election

voting-age population (VAP)–persons who are 18 and older

voting-eligible population (VEP)–citizens 18 and older who, whether registered or not, are eligible to vote because of citizenship, mental competence, and non-imprisonment


  1. Michael P. McDonald and Samuel Popkin. 2001. "Myth of the Vanishing Voter," American Political Science Review 95, No. 4: 963–974; See also, "What is the Voting-Age Population (VAP) and the Voting-Eligible Population (VEP)?" http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/faq/denominator (November 12, 2015).
  2. https://transition.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2016/2016presgeresults.pdf; https://www.census.gov/search-results.html?; q=population+on+11%2F8%2F2016&search.x=0&search.y=0&search=submit&page=1&stateGeo=none&searchtype=web; https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/voting-and-registration/p20-580.html
  3. McDonald and Popkin, "Myth of the Vanishing Voter," 963–974.
  4. Drew Desilver. 6 May 015. "U.S. Voter Turnout Trails Most Developed Countries, " http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/06/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries.
  5. "Felon Voting Rights," 15 July 2014. http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/felon-voting-rights.aspx.
  6. Wilson Ring, "Vermont, Maine Only States to Let Inmates Vote," Associated Press, 22 October 2008.
  7. "Voter’s Qualifications and Oath," https://votesmart.org/elections/ballot-measure/1583/voters-qualifications-and-oath#.VjQOJH6rS00 (November 12, 2015).
  8. Ibid.
  9. USA.gov at https://www.justice.gov/crt/about-national-voter-registration-act "About the National Voter Registration Act"
  10. USA.gov at https://www.justice.gov/crt/about-national-voter-registration-act "About the National Voter Registration Act"
  11. USA.gov at https://www.justice.gov/crt/about-national-voter-registration-act "About the National Voter Registration Act"
  12. "The Canvass," April 2014, Issue 48, http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/states-and-election-reform-the-canvass-april-2014.aspx.
  13. Royce Crocker, "The National Voter Registration Act of 1993: History, Implementation, and Effects," Congressional Research Service, CRS Report R40609, September 18, 2013, https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40609.pdf.
  14. "National General Election VEP Turnout Rates, 1789–Present," http://www.electproject.org/national-1789-present (November 4, 2015).
  15. John B. Holbein, D. Sunshine Hillygus. 2015. "Making Young Voters: The Impact of Preregistration on Youth Turnout." American Journal of Political Science (March). doi:10.1111/ajps.12177.
  16. Russell Berman, "Should Voter Registration Be Automatic?" Atlantic, 20 March 2015; Maria L. La Ganga, "Under New Oregon Law, All Eligible Voters are Registered Unless They Opt Out," Los Angeles Times, 17 March 2015.
  17. "One Hundred Seventh Congress of the United States of America at the Second Session," 23 January 2002. http://www.eac.gov/assets/1/workflow_staging/Page/41.PDF.
  18. "Voter List Accuracy,"11 February 2014. http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-list-accuracy.aspx
  19. Brad Bryant and Kay Curtis, eds. December 2013. "Interstate Crosscheck Program Grows," http://www.kssos.org/forms/communication/canvassing_kansas/dec13.pdf.
  20. "Table 2. Reported Voting and Registration, by Race, Hispanic Origin, Sex, and Age, for the United States: November 2012," https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/p20/2012/tables.html (November 6, 2015).
  21. "Table 5. Reported Voting and Registration, by Age, Sex, and Educational Attainment: November 2012," https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/p20/2012/tables.html (November 6, 2015).
  22. "Table 7. Reported Voting and Registration of Family Members, by Age and Family Income: November 2012," https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/p20/2012/tables.html (November 5, 2015).
  23. "Table 4b. Reported Voting and Registration, by Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin, for States: November 2012," https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/p20/2012/tables.html (November 2, 2015).
  24. "Table 1. Reported Voting and Registration, by Sex and Single Years of Age: November 2012," https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/p20/2012/tables.html (November 2, 2015).
  25. "Table 10. Reported Voting and Registration, by Sex and Single Years of Age: November 2012," https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/p20/2012/tables.html (November 2, 2015).
  26. Stefan D. Haag, "Early Voting in Texas: What are the Effects?" Austin Community College CPPPS Report, http://www.austincc.edu/cppps/earlyvotingfull/report5.pdf (November 1, 2015).
  27. Rich Morin. 23 September 2013. "Early Voting Associated with Lower Turnout," http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/23/study-early-voting-associated-with-lower-turnout.
  28. The Denver Post Editorial Board, "A Vote of Confidence for Mail Elections in Colorado," Denver Post, 10 November 2014.
  29. Harvard IOP, "Trump, Carson Lead Republican Primary; Sanders Edging Clinton Among Democrats, Harvard IOP Poll Finds," news release, December 10, 2015, http://www.iop.harvard.edu/harvard-iop-fall-2015-poll.
  30. C. Rallings, M. Thrasher, and G. Borisyuk. 2003. "Seasonal Factors, Voter Fatigue and the Costs of Voting," Electoral Studies 22, No. 1: 65–79.
  31. Richard Niemi and Michael Hanmer. 2010. "Voter Turnout Among College Students: New Data and a Rethinking of Traditional Theories," Social Science Quarterly 91, No. 2: 301–323.
  32. Stephen Medvic. 2014. Campaigns and Elections: Players and Processes, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.
  33. Guinn v. United States, 238 U.S. 347 (1915).
  34. Medvic, Campaigns and Elections.
  35. Bernard Grofman, Lisa Handley, and Richard G. Niemi. 1992. Minority Representation and the Quest for Voting Equality. New York: Cambridge University Press, 25.
  36. David Stout, "Supreme Court Upholds Voter Identification Law in Indiana," New York Times, 29 April 2008; Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).
  37. "'Unusable' Voter Rolls," Wall Street Journal, 7 November 2000.
  38. "Jurisdictions Previously Covered by Section 5," http://www.justice.gov/crt/jurisdictions-previously-covered-section-5 (November 1, 2015).
  39. Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. ___ (2013).