With The End Of Voter ID Law, Preregistration Makes A Come-Back, Sunshine Hillygus interviewed, WUNC NPR
More than 150,000 North Carolina students have preregistered to vote since it became legal in 2009. Nationally, those numbers can have an impact on voter turnout, boosting it by as much as five percentage points—which in the world of political science is nothing to sneeze at.
"It is a big deal," Duke University professor Sunshine Hillygus said. Hillygus teaches political science and does research on preregistration.
"It’s really hard to find electoral reforms that are effective at increasing turnout," she said. "There have been a few systematic studies that look across a few things like early voting and same-day registration, and preregistration effects among young voters is one of the largest that we’ve really seen in terms of electoral reforms."
Hillygus said contrary to common assumptions, preregistration doesn’t give either political party a strategic advantage. She notes that by far, the majority of students who preregister are unaffiliated, and unpredictable swing voters. The real impact of preregistration, Hillygus said, is that it's especially effective at sweeping up kids into the political system who aren’t already engaged with it.
"We’re reaching people who are less likely to register when they come of age," she said.