Constructing the Demos: Voter Qualifications, Participation, and Suppression in Comparative Context

In recent years voter qualification requirements have generated an immense amount of controversy. The debate is polarized. Critics contend that these requirements are intended to and have the effect of depriving people of their right to vote. By contrast, proponents of voter qualification requirements claim that these rules are necessary to protect the integrity of the vote.

This paper sets out a theoretical framework for assessing voter qualifications. It then applies the framework to a wide array of voter qualification requirements, including citizenship, residency, minimum age, voter identification, voter registration, and rules applying to criminal conviction. It considers voter qualifications from a comparative perspective, drawing on the regulations found in a number of jurisdictions, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, India, Israel, Germany, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.