The determinants of electoral registration quality: A cross-national analysis

Toby S. James, Holly Ann Garnett

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Abstract

Electoral registers provide the definitive record of who can participate in an election, but there is often thought to be considerable variations in their quality cross-nationally. This leads to concerns about eligible voters being de facto disenfranchised on election day; but also ineligible voters or fictitious names appearing on the roll which can enable electoral fraud. In either case, the legitimacy of the election can be questioned. The electoral register is also used for other purposes such as drawing electoral boundaries. This article introduces some common international terminology for electoral register quality and a conceptualisation of the different ways in which an electoral register can be compiled. It then introduces a new global dataset on registration procedures (n = 159). The article hypotheses that automatic voter registration, as well as organisational and structural factors, strongly affects accuracy and completeness. The results show that automatic voter registration increases the completeness of the electoral register and also has a positive impact on accuracy. The organisational performance of the electoral management body was also shown to have positive effects on completeness and accuracy, suggesting an additional means of improving electoral registers beyond the registration model, which also rest in the hands of policy makers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRepresentation
Early online date12 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2023

Keywords

  • elections
  • electoral integrity
  • democracy
  • Voter registration
  • development

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