2021 National Voter Registration Message Test

Publication date: July 27, 2021
Written by: Stefani Buhajla

Federal officials recently announced plans to take control of voter registration away from states. Legislation under consideration like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Biden administration’s Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting attempt to place voter registration in control of the federal government.

The Center for Excellence in Polling wanted to know how Americans view federal control over voter registration, and what messages resound the most with voters on the issue.

Overwhelmingly, voters oppose giving federal officials control of voter registration efforts.

More than half of voters are likely to oppose such an effort (58%). This includes a majority of Republicans (81%) and more than half of Independent voters (60%).

voter registration message test

Messages that Move Voters

Voters fear partisan abuses of the political process, and the most impactful messages were those that related to these fears. Regardless of political persuasion, voters were less likely to support a federal voter registration takeover when they knew this could result in voter registration efforts targeted to one political party over another to sway outcomes.

Voters said they would be even less likely to support a federal voter registration takeover when they knew:


less likely to support

It would give whoever is in the White House partisan political power over registration efforts.


less likely to support

D.C.-based agencies could override state election procedures.

Other Messages that Work

Other messages that resonated with voters and would make them less likely to support federal takeover of voter registration include:


less likely to support

Presidents could use the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sue states over laws with which they disagree.


less likely to support

Partisan political groups, such as Rock the Vote and Progressive Turnout Project, would be allowed to oversee election processes.

Simply put, Americans are even less likely to support a federal takeover of voter registration when they know that such an action would limit the ability of states to control their own elections.

2022 and Beyond

Looking to mid-term elections and beyond, a plurality of voters now say they support Republican efforts to gain control of the House of Representatives in 2022 as a means of balancing political power in Washington (47% to 46%).

In addition, President Biden’s net-approval rating has dropped to zero, a remarkable swing from just weeks ago: The same percentage of voters approve of the job he is doing as President (46%) as disapprove (46%).

Ultimately, voters largely do not support federal takeover when presented with messages that concern fairness, transparency, and partisanship in a process that should be neutral and protected from outside influence, and they are most moved by messages that point to these concerns.

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