Registering Returning Citizens to Vote

Awarded Scholars:
Laurel Eckhouse, University of Denver
Hannah Walker, Rutgers University New Brunswick
Jennifer Doleac, University of Virginia
Allison Harris, Yale University
Project Date:
Mar 2021
Award Amount:

One way the criminal justice system contributes to systemic racial inequality is by reducing the civic engagement of people with prior criminal justice convictions, particularly for Blacks and Latinx who are more likely to have criminal records. Many individuals with prior felony convictions are formally excluded from voting, but even those who are eligible to vote have very low rates of voter registration and voting. Political scientist Laurel Eckhouse and her colleagues are carrying out a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of providing voter eligibility and registration information to formerly incarcerated individuals in North Carolina and Texas. This project extends a successful pilot project carried out in NC. Methodologically, the project implements a process for reaching difficult-to-contact populations, such as the justice-involved. Substantively, it will analyze the consequences of carceral contact and suggest techniques for mitigating them. The primary study goals are to replicate the pilot findings in a different state, to estimate the efficacy of specific components of the treatment, and to test for heterogeneity across subgroups.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


Join our mailing list for email updates.