Registering Re-entering Citizens to Vote
Millions of people in the US are eligible to vote despite past felony convictions, but their voter participation rates are extraordinarily low. Efforts to register and mobilize this population have foundered due to data limitations. In this pilot project, we will test methods for registering previously-convicted or formerly-incarcerated people to vote. We propose to use administrative data to identify and find contact information for people with past convictions, and then to send them messages encouraging them to register. We describe several small pilot studies that will allow us to test various approaches and lay the groundwork for a larger experiment. Ultimately, we plan a large randomized control trial to test the efficacy of such contacts for converting returning citizens into registered voters. Such a study will also allow us to empirically test claims that political reintegration can reduce recidivism, as we also plan to collect longer-term measures of re-arrest and re-conviction. This type of evidence is especially important as states consider restoring voting rights to individuals with felony convictions who remain disenfranchised.