Voter Registration Costs and Disenfranchisement: Experimental Evidence from France

by Celine Braconnier, Jean-Yves Dormagen, and Vincent Pons
 
 

Executive Summary — In most democracies, voter registration is automatic and done by the state. But in a few others, such as the United States and France, registration is self-initiated: citizens who wish to vote must register first, and they need to do so again each time they move. This study examines the effects of canvassing and home registration of unregistered and misregistered citizens in 10 French cities.

Author Abstract

In most democracies, voter registration is automatic and done by the state. But in a few others, such as the United States and France, registration is self-initiated: citizens who wish to vote must register first, and they need to do so again each time they move. This study examining the effects of canvassing and home registration of unregistered and misregistered citizens in 10 French cities found that the self-initiated registration system excludes a large fraction of the citizenry that is otherwise prepared to vote. Facilitating voter registration would likely increase the social and ethnic representativeness of the electoral rolls and the actual vote.

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