Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why Are Millions of Citizens Not Registered to Vote?

The Pew Charitable Trusts, Research & Analysis has issued this Brief.

Little is known about Eligible but Unregistered U.S. Citizens’ exposure to Opportunities to Register, reasons for choosing not to, or attitudes toward the Electoral System and Civic Engagement, or how many of them are interested in Registering in the future.

To begin to fill this gap, The Pew Charitable Trusts Commissioned a Nationally Representative Survey conducted in March and April 2016 that included a large Population of Unregistered Individuals.

This Chart Book presents findings from the Survey about the Attitudes and Experiences of those who said they were not Registered to Vote in the months preceding the 2016 Presidential Election, including:

- Less than 20% of Eligible citizens have been offered the chance to Register at a Motor Vehicle or other Government Agency.

- The Unregistered were more likely to say they do not Vote because they Dislike Politics or believe Voting will not make a difference, while people who are Registered but Vote infrequently say they do not Vote more often because they are not informed enough about the Candidates or Issues.

- At least 13% of the Unregistered, generally those who are Younger and more Civically Engaged, say they could be Motivated to Register in the Future.


The Unregistered differ in many ways from those who Vote frequently: They are less interested in politics, less Engaged in Civic Activities, and more Cynical about their Ability to Understand and Influence Government, but they are not appreciably different on these measures from individuals who are Registered but rarely Vote.

However, the Unregistered population is not entirely Unengaged from Civic Life; some indicated that they would Register, and that Group also reported participating in Community or Political Activities at rates similar to occasional and Semi-Frequent Voters. Further, more than 40% of the Unregistered cared who would Win the Presidency in 2016, and some indicated that they could be Motivated to Register in the Future, though many also feel that the Voting Process does not Affect the way Governing Decisions are made.

These findings suggest that Opportunities Exist to Engage segments of the Unregistered Population, including through consistent Outreach at Motor Vehicle Agencies as required under the NVRA and Public Education Campaigns designed to highlight the significance of Individual Voter Participation to Election outcomes and the connection between Local Policies and issues these Citizens care about, such as those for which they Volunteer in their Communities. Less than 20% of this Group has been asked to Register by a State Agency, and a substantial increase in that figure could help to improve Registration Rates and Electoral participation among these Disconnected Citizens.

CLICK HERE to read the report.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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