Section 3: Key Election Process Categories Voter Registration
What is voter registration?
Voter registration is the key process that establishes which individuals are eligible to vote. The voter registration process varies widely across countries. In some countries, voters are automatically registered when they turn of voting age or when they move to a new place of residence. This type of registration is called passive voter registration. In other countries, the voter has to take specifics steps to register. That type of registration is called active voter registration. In all voter registration processes, the government must provide eligible voters with fair access to the process. The government should also make sure the citizen has a reasonable opportunity to complete or update their registration. Additionally, the responsible authority must inform voters in advance about where, when, and how to register or update their details in the voter register.
Why does voter registration matter?
The voter registration process has three goals:
- Voter registration makes sure eligible citizens have a real opportunity to vote;
- Voter registration prevents ineligible people from voting; and
- Voter registration should prevent multiple voting.
A fair voter registration process fosters political equality and actively encourages the inclusion of eligible voters. Voter registration is integral to the administration of elections. When the voter registration process is high quality, it can increase the legitimacy of the entire process. On the other hand, when the voter registration process is low quality – or perceived as such – it can cast doubts on the legitimacy of the entire electoral process. Access to information on the registration process is central to a citizen’s ability to register and assess the electoral process. Civil society organizations often use voter registration statistics to determine whether the overall process was fair and inclusive.
Example voter registration data
Data includes the dates and times for voter registration to be conducted, and locations of voter registration centers. Data also includes information on the number of registered voters by geography, gender, and age. This disaggregated data is essential to assess the inclusiveness of the registration process. Often such information is published on a rolling basis, such as daily or weekly, during the voter registration period.