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Difference Between VEP and VAP


Elections are all about the numbers. Whoever gets the highest number of votes, wins. That is the general rule. However, there are certain details and statistics to be taken into consideration to determine whether an election successfully brings out the most number of voters. This is where the voting eligible population (VEP) and the voting age population (VAP) come into play.

The voting eligible population (VEP) is the demographic that represents members of the population that are actually eligible to vote. This covers the population who are registered as voters. It does not include persons that are not eligible to vote, such as non-citizens, and in certain states in the United States, convicted felons. For obvious reasons, normally eligible voters but who are located overseas are not included in the VEP. Registered voters have increased in number in recent years particularly with the drives that the U.S. government initiated, such as the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (aka “Motor Voter” Act) which provided a means of making voter registration convenient for the populace, establishing registration options through establishments such as schools, public libraries, disability centers, and even through driver’s license registration and renewal. There are even options for mail-in registration, and some states such as Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming offer same-day registration, which means a voter can register at the day of the election itself. These and many other programs have significantly increased the VEP.

Voting age population (VAP) is a broader term as it encompasses the section of the overall population of legal age to vote. As a rule of thumb, anyone within the country who is the age of 18 and is a resident of the United States at the time the numbers are determined comprises the voting age population. This includes those who are not registered to vote, non-citizens, and the aforementioned convicted felons (who can be ineligible depending on which state they are located in). Note that while it is the obligation of American citizens to be registered voters, they are not automatically registered upon reaching the voting age of 18. Another point to consider is that permanent residents are not eligible as voters despite having a Green Card and within the legal age to vote (though there are instances where permanent residents’ votes are counted although this is due to an error). Although the VAP voting age in the United States is generally 18 and is generally an accepted way of estimating the potential voters in a country, some foreign countries have a different minimum age which can be lower or higher.

In certain countries, the difference between the VAP and VEP is lower as there are nations where registration is automatic and mandatory. In these cases, the figures have little disparity. An interesting point is that some countries actually have a larger VEP than VAP. This situation is often due to errors of the electoral management body (EMB) or inaccurate reporting (particularly of individuals who are no longer eligible to vote due to death or other circumstances such as leaving the country), but it can also be from other factors (such as double registrations and outright fraud). Another interesting tidbit of information is that there is only one location where there is a “maximum” voting age, which is in the Vatican’s Holy See (limiting the Cardinals who vote for the next Pope to those who are below 80 years old).

The right to vote is one of the most important that those in the United States enjoy, but keeping track of who can and cannot vote can be a challenging task. Taking the VEP against the VAP can be critical in determining the voter turnout in the municipal, state, and national elections which in turn is a factor in assessing the success of an election.


1.The voting eligible population (VEP) is the figure representing the section of the population that are registered and legally empowered to vote.
2.The voting age population (VAP), on the other hand, is a rough estimate of the population that are within the prescribed age to vote regardless of being registered or otherwise legally eligible.
3.Disparities can exist between the VAP and the VEP depending on how large the population is, where the location is, and what the prevailing initiatives are in registering voters.

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