Talk:Voter registration

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Voter Information is Public Information[edit]

Could there be more information provided about voter registration becoming public information? I read on a voter registration form that the information provided would become "public information" and available upon request for a small fee. This information included: Unlisted phone numbers, home address and (sometimes) birth dates and social security numbers.

This information is also available over the internet. In other words, anyone can access this private information. Internet "Spy" websites (designed to locate people) advise stating that the information is being collected for research, even though its being used to locate a certain person or "spy" on a certain person.

Also, states in the US may offer "confidential voter status" for those who do not want their home addresses and private information released to the public.


Can someone add a US section to this? I understand people have to register as either Republican or Democrat before they can vote? That sounds a bit Orwellian so maybe I have the wrong end of the stick? nick 12:58, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

I second that. 11:36, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
My understanding is that you can optionally state a party to support on your registration, and you will be entitled to vote in that party's primary elections, etc. I've no idea whether the information is made public, but it appears to be used in an equivalent manner to when parties over here need to ballot their members. 02:54, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
28 states and DC require you to declare a party affiliation, though you can declare "Independent" i.e. no affiliation. Party affiliation in those states permits "closed primaries" in which only those declared for a party can vote in that party's primary. In other states, "open primaries" are used instead, in which you only declare which party's primary you are voting in, at the time of voting. See open primary, closed primary, blanket primary, California Democratic Party v. Jones, and this list indicating which states do and do not require official party affiliation. - Keith D. Tyler (AMA) 18:18, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
This is also relevant -- in MD, and therefore probably elsewhere there is party affiliation, registering as "independent" means you don't get to vote in the primary at all, as you have no party to select candidates for. You can only vote in the general election. - Keith D. Tyler (AMA) 18:20, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Why does the registration section link to the League of Women Voters website, isn't that advertising?Nnnudibranch (talk) 05:00, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Voter Registration[edit]

The statement "Laws requiring individual voters to register, as opposed to having the government register people automatically, have a strong correlation with lower numbers of people turning out to vote" is at odds with the Australian experience with individual voter registration but also a long record of very high voter turnout (see rest of article). Some revision needed here - perhaps it's a bit POV. PAS 23:30, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Australia doesn't fit that statement because voting is compulsory - I've amended the statement to refer only to where voting is voluntary. I agree it still sounds a touch POV though. Brynus 11:52, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Regarding US voter registration section: Added some lines and a link about voter disenfranchisment. This is, or should be a hot topic. Especially since the very public embarasment of Florida's use of bad lists to bar people from voting. (Its obvious now that these lists were purposely vague). People were wrongly turned away from voting, only finding out when they are actually there to vote, that they cannot vote because of a list. Of course, by the time the person proves that he/she can vote, its too late. Apparantly they have done this twice now, although the second time they dropped the list completely after bad press. (Thanks to the press there). Do Americans care about anything that happens in government? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:01, 23 October 2010 (UTC)


Can anyone confirm or deny the statement "The current system of registration, introduced by the Labour government?" User:Morph UK deleted the phrase with no explanation. --Electiontechnology 17:17, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

It is subject to definition of "the current system". The current system of rolling registration, which is not so dependent on the annual canvas, was introduced by the Labour government in the Representation of the People Act 2000 - specifically an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1983. So you could say the current system was introduced in 1983 but the current system of rolling registration was introduced in 2000. The edit was misinformed. -- zzuuzz (talk) 18:38, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Edited opening sentence of UK section as it was utterly false. It read: "In the UK voter registration is compulsory but the requirement to register is often not enforced." There is no obligation whatsoever on members of the public to register to vote if they do not wish to. If anyone can prove me wrong, please feel free to edit this back again, citing reliable sources. Echobeats (talk) 17:59, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Too US-centric[edit]

I've just alphabetized the individual countries and provided a short intro to the list of them. I think the first half of the article is too US-centric, and much of the info there should be moved down to the US-section. --Hordaland (talk) 01:17, 9 April 2008 (UTC)


I registered 5 years ago during the last election. I haven't moved - Do I have to register for each election or just the one time prior? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:45, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

Rules vary from country to country and often within countries. Though the answer well may be found on the Internett, this is decidedly not the right place to ask. You'll have to do your own research, and a local 'phone call is probably all that's needed. --Hordaland (talk) 16:28, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

What is the purpose of registration?[edit]

I live in a country (Belgium0 where once you are 18 you are automatically allowed to vote (it is even compulsary). What is the idea behind the registration? Was there a historical reason for this? Like not being able to buy votes the last minute? As it stands now I see very little advantages to this practice. Can someone enlighten me and maybe put it in the article? (talk) 13:16, 24 September 2008 (UTC)Hicham Vanborm

I agree that those are good questions, which should be (better) addressed in the article. In many countries a central register of citizens and residents makes any need for individual initiative in registering to vote unnecessary. When and where did the practice of (and requirement for) such an individual initiative first occur? In the USA or elsewhere? Historically, voting rights have been restricted to males, to property owners, to people without a criminal record. Is this a reason for the requirement? All this history should be a part of the article. --Hordaland (talk) 14:16, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Voter registration is meant to help prevent/discourage voter fraud. I live in North Dakota where voter registration has been eliminated. Instead, North Dakota relys on its small precinct size, a list of past voters, and providing identification with an address if you haven't voted in that precinct before. Even if you have never voted in that precinct before and have no identification, if a qualified voter in that precinct can vouch that you are a resident of that precinct you can vote. Also, if all those requirements aren't met, you can still vote, but you have to sign an form that you are in fact a registered voter of that precinct, and those voters are checked before their votes are counted. The system works well, and North Dakota has yet to have a reported event of voter fraud since voter registration was abolished over 50 years ago. -JWGreen (talk) 22:29, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Which doesn't answer the question completely. To add another European perspective: Here in the Netherlands, there's no voter registration at all. A 'list of past voters' would be considered a breach of privacy. Everybody that's allowed to vote gets a voting pass with his name and address (by mail, or you can pick it up at the municipality office if it doesn't reach you). When voting, you have to present the pass and your id, That's all. Having an ID is compulsary, so there's no problem there. A record of voters is kept during the day, but destroyed immediately after. Pooh (talk) 11:51, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
I'd guess that the Netherlands has a central registry of citizens and residents which you are required to keep updated with your present address. It's not specifically voter registration but registration for many purposes, including voting. In Norway, too, each voter gets a reminder in the mail about the upcoming election with polling place, times etc. The voter is encouraged to take the card along, but it isn't mandatory.
In The Netherlands, every citizen is required to be registered in one of the municipalities, you have to identify yourself when you want legal residence in one of the municipalities. They are responsible for the voting process, set up the offices and own the (certified) equipment. They used to send calling cards with which you could vote in the nearest office. Now everybody gets one voting pass a couple of weeks before the election date, this has a watermark and can be used to vote once within the municipal district. There was some debate about privacy because now all the offices have a complete list of all registered voters, but they were overpassed because the electronic voting machines didn't produce tangible evidence which the voter is able to check and are easily manipulated. I believe the voter registration is nothing more than redundant information, if all citizens are supposed to be able to cast one vote there's no use in having them register except acknowledging the Civil registry isn't correct. --Tkteun (talk) 04:28, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
It never occurred to me to wonder if the lists of voting / non-voting residents are archived or destroyed. - Hordaland (talk) 20:19, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
The UK has voter registration, but there's no "list of past voters". Being on the register means you can vote, but it doesn't mean you will or ever have done. I would say that the Dutch system of compulsory general registration (as opposed to voluntary registration which merely enables one to vote) is more of a breach of privacy than voter registration. Also, we don't have compulsory ID and you don't show ID to vote (except in Northern Ireland).Echobeats (talk) 18:05, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

I came to this article wanting to know what purpose voter registration serves, but found no answer. Reading the above, I learned that I was under the assumption that it is a government's duty to accurately keep some basic information about their residents. Apparently this is false, which makes me wonder why citizens would allow that (assuming a non-oppressive government that is transparent, keeps itself accountable, discourages corruption, etc.). A system of compulsory general registration allows governments to have everyone accounted for, in statistics, law, taxes, education, health, conscription and voting. No possibility to vote outside of your district, no possibility for non-citizens to vote illegally. Registration could be a breach of privacy, if non-critical information is recorded (e.g. skin colour, religion), if the information isn't guarded properly or when it is handed out to non-critical organisations (e.g. churches). Hmm, this discussion seems to be veering towards the topic of resident registration (which also has very little historical info). --Bdijkstra (talk) 23:54, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Iowa Same-Day Registration[edit]

  • Should we not include Iowa, I heard it's same day registration also. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:23, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

party affiliation?[edit]

In some states, when registering to vote, one may declare an affiliation with a political party. This declaration of affiliation does not cost any money, and it is not the same as being a dues-paying member of a party; for example, a party cannot prevent anybody from declaring his or her affiliation with them, but it can refuse requests for full membership. Some states, including Michigan, Virginia, and Washington do not have party affiliation with registration.

The article doesn't explain what the reason is to declare affiliation to a certain party in the US, nor whether (or not) this would subsequently require you to vote on them. Seems like a convenient way to generate stats, but otherwise I'm not quite sure what the benefits (or related problems for that matter) are. In short, why would one declare affiliation to a political party? -- MiG (talk) 09:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

The two main reasons I can think of for voter registration by political party are (1) to determine which voters are eligible to vote in a party's primary election and/or participate in a party caucus or convention, and (2) to determine which political parties are granted ballot access, or what level of ballot access they are granted. States have varying laws regarding political parties and ballot access (how easy or hard it is to have a party's candidate appear on a ballot) - some of the states determine the access by how many registered voters are affiliated with a political party. Minor parties (anything not Democrat or Republican) often have many restrictions thrown in front of them by the Democrats and Republicans. User7145 (talk) 22:35, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Dubious unsourced assertion[edit]

The article states in the Effects and controversy section:

Laws requiring individual voters to register, as opposed to having the government register people automatically, have a strong correlation with lower numbers of people turning out to vote where voting is voluntary.

This was challenged above in 2006 as POV, but it is still there, and still without a source. It can't possibly be true as written ("lower numbers of people"); at a minimum it would have to be changed to "lower percentages of people". But still it would be unsourced.

Does someone know if there is a source on this? Duoduoduo (talk) 15:21, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

There's some useful findings in this paper (PDF) (disclosure: I'm not a political scientist). The TL;DR version is that once you control for changes in the law properly, having an easier registration regime tends to increase rates of actual voting, especially amongst the young. I'm not an expert in political science so I can't say 100% that this is a consensus view within the field, but I have worked in voter registration and politics professionally and can vouch that it's a conclusion that's pretty well-accepted in that realm, FWIW (see also here and here, although both sources have an ideological POV). If this looks OK with you I'll cite the Plutzer and Pacheco paper and remove the tags in a day or three. Meelar (talk) 17:38, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
The line in this article that I objected to says "Laws requiring individual voters to register...". I wrongly took that literally -- I thought it was referring to compulsory registration. (And that's why I moved it to be a subset of the section on compulsory registration.) But now after thinking about it, and seeing that the sources you cite have nothing to do with compulsory registration, I see that your interpretation of the passage is "Registration laws necessitating action by the individual who wishes to be registered...." I assume you are right in this interpretation of the original editor's intent, so I'll revert my section rearrangement, clarify the wording, and put in the cite to the Plutzer and Pacheco paper. Thanks! Duoduoduo (talk) 19:10, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Much clearer. Thanks! Meelar (talk) 19:26, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

What is the law that bans non-citizen federal voting in US?[edit]

Thanks for the cite to the government website saying non-citizens can't vote in federal elections. Is there any chance you could track down what specific federal law this refers to, and when it became law? This would be a relevant addition to the article Right of foreigners to vote in the United States. Duoduoduo (talk) 22:28, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

There may be previous laws, but the 2002 Help America Vote Act required all states to ask about citizenship on their mail-in voter registration forms. [1]--the specific citation I found was 42 U.S.C. § 15483(b)(4)(A)(i) (2008). Meelar (talk) 23:03, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Removed shameless organization plugs[edit]

At the end of the United States section, the text quoted below appeared. Those links are fine in the "See Also" section, but they have no business in the article itself. I'd add them to the "See Also," but I'm not sure how. Someone else can do that if he thinks it's really necessary.

"More information on voter registration and voting may be found at League of Women Voters,[1],[2] or Declare Yourself.[3]"

  1. ^ "League of Women Voters". Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "Voter Registration Resource". Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Declare Yourself". Retrieved 4 August 2010.