Voter Registration

Robert D. Brown

in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199235476
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Voter Registration


This article investigates the most prominent themes in voter registration. It also describes an important limitation in the work on voter registration: research on voter registration has focused primarily on voter registration as a determinant of political behavior, to the detriment of the understanding of actual behavior of registering itself. It then provides some concluding observations on how addressing this limitation may offer insight into an important paradox in the voter registration and participation literatures: how it is possible that registration laws have become significantly liberalized over the years, yet with relatively little payoff in terms of voter turnout and increased representativeness of those who vote? It first deals with the influence of the registration requirement on voter turnout. Additionally, the resulting implications for the composition of the active electorate are explained. The impacts of election reforms designed to reduce the impact of this institutional barrier to voting are shown.

Keywords: voter registration; political behavior; voter participation; voter turnout; registration requirement; active electorate; election reforms; voting

Article.  8437 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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