Profile America: Voter Registration

Tuesday, March 7 — The right to vote began to receive some supervision more than two centuries ago, when Massachusetts acted on this date in 1801 to register voters. At that time, the franchise was limited to men — usually those of local repute and owning property. Town assessors drew up publicly posted lists of voters. If any voter was omitted, documents proving eligibility were accepted. The practice caught on very slowly. Only after the Civil War did voter registration become widespread. Today, North Dakota is the only state without a voter registration requirement, although proof of residency must be shown. In 2014, out of a voting age population of nearly 220 million citizens, over 64 percent were registered to vote. In Massachusetts, registration was just under 62 percent.

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