POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Voter Caging

Voter caging means casting doubt over the eligibility of individual citizens voting in an election with the goal of preventing them from participating. In most jurisdictions, citizens must first register in order to be eligible to vote, so voter caging is centered around questioning the validity of someone’s registration.

The typical practice of voter caging involves the following steps:

  • Mass mails are sent out to addresses on the electoral roll
  • Some of the mails are returned undelivered
  • The legality of individual voters’ registration is questioned on the basis that the voters no longer live at the registered address listed on the electoral roll

The practice of voter caging has been undertaken by political parties wishing to gain an advantage in a particular voting district which typically votes for an opposition party by preventing them for being allowed to cast their vote on election day.

Voter caging is a controversial topic in the United States being widely viewed as a form of voter suppression. As such, it is formally prohibited under the National Voting Rights Act 1993 if its aim is to disenfranchise eligible voters based on electoral roll errors. However, the practice is legal if its aim is to genuinely prevent people voting illegally.

See also: Voter Suppression, Voting District, Constituency

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