I'm writing about the election of board members, and need to refer to the list of people who may cast a vote. In this context, which would be the better choice – "electoral roll", "electoral register" or "voting list"? I have found some rather weak support for the two former suggestions being used only in political elections, so that the last suggestion – "voting list" – would seem to be the better option in this context, but I'm not sure...

Thank you!

Update: I'd like to thank you all so much for all your help! I failed to mention before that I am not writing about the election of board members, but rather translating a document that someone else has written about the election of board members (I figured I would only complicate things by adding this extra information). Seeing that the list I'm asking about is not a "thing" in an English-speaking context – whereas it is in the present context – I will go with Jeff Morrow's suggestion list of eligible voters, seeing that that is not a technical term in the same way as "electoral roll" or "electoral register".

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    Personally, I’d say “list of eligible voters” if you are trying to specify who may legitimately vote rather than who cast a vote. Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 15:32
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    You've asked several questions relating to commercial / legal terminology which could have serious implications if anything you write becomes relevant to a legal dispute. And it seems to me you're primarily asking here specifically because of that context, rather than for the purpose of learning English. This might not be the right site for your purposes. Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 15:39
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    No, in corporate governance contexts, none of those terms you suggest work. It can be: list of candidates [for election to the board]; list of nominees [for election to the board]. Corporate governance shareholder voting procedures can be quite complicated and many large companies even have a Nominating Committee. I suggested before you go and read materials on sites of associations involved in corporate governance, either in NA or the UK. Electoral is not a word typically used in corporate government board member voting.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 16:10
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    There is nothing wrong with your question and I disagree with my colleagues about this.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 16:29
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    @Lambie Also, I'm sorry our communication turned a bit sour towards the end, it's just that after having read comment after comment from you (most of which you've now deleted) where you complained about how I had more or less tricked you into helping me; how I had intentionally withheld information in order to mislead you; and how I didn't listen to your advice I just had enough. I was fed up with apologising for things that weren't even true. Still, I shouldn't have been rude to you, which I'm afraid I was in my last comments.
    – Helen
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 9:38

2 Answers 2


I fear that that Lambie’s answer and comments may be misleading.

First, there are differences in meaning among eligible to be elected, to be nominated, and to vote. For example, in the U.S., you cannot vote in a presidential vote if you are younger than 18, but you cannot be elected if you are younger than 35.

The issue has been raised of who is eligible to vote in non-profit organizations. I am not competent to discuss such organizations outside the U.S. but I have been a member of many such organizations, a member of the board of four of them, and chairman of the board of three of them; there is a wide variety of rules concerning eligibility ro be nominated, elected, and to vote. Any assertion of uniformity with respect to such matters is an uninformed assertion.

With respect to partnerships and stock organizations in the U.S., there is no uniformity (see for example class A and class B stock) but less variation in practice. The best that can be said is that eligibility to vote is constrained but not necessarily determined by state law.

Given the wide variation in jurisdiction, type of organization, and controlling charter of bodies that make decisions by voting, the most general but accurate description of those who are entitled to vote is “list of eligible voters.” There may be other terms that are equally valid, and there may be other terms that are more frequently used and more apt with respect to specific types of organization, but “list of eligible voters” is a good general term. In, for example, a corporation with one class of holders of common stock, “list of shareholders” denotes the list of eligible voters although voting rights are not the only rights accruing to those shareholders,

  • Thank you so much! Yes – what you write in the last paragraph of your answer is exactly the conclusion I came to as well, when I googled "list of eligible voters" + "board election" (after having read your initial comment).
    – Helen
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 9:42
  • No, the issue is about translation from another language. For non-profits, we would just say: voting members, a certain category of membership. FYI, I have translated tons and tons of by-laws in my time, and also have belonged to many non-profits.legalnature.com/guides/… My answer is most definitely not misleading. How dare you. No one will put: list of eligible voters in by-laws. Voting members and shareholders with voting rights are the proper term.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 16:46
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    @Lambie Please check out the following links (among others): ctpf.org/sites/files/2020-10/…; usacricket.org/media-release/…; cologneacademy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/…; ewcpa.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/…
    – Helen
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 17:21
  • @Helen, without your original, there's no point. As a translator, I can vouch for that!!
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 17:23
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    @Lambie The links were only meant as proof that you are simply wrong when you claim that no-one will use "list of eligible voters" in this kind of document. You don't need my original for that :)
    – Helen
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 17:28

"I'm writing about the election of board members, and need to refer to the list of people who may cast a vote. In this context, which would be the better choice – "electoral roll", "electoral register" or "voting list"?"

Jeff Morrow's answer is flat-out mistaken.

In American English, we say:

  • voting members and non-voting members (or membership) for non-profits
  • shareholders or if voting rights are limited to a category of shareholder, we would say: shareholders with voting rights.

"List of eligible voters" is a political term.

  • And "the list" of voting members or shareholders with voting rights is not something you find in by-laws (except maybe like this: The association shall maintain an up-to-date list of members), it is something a database administrator would use as a term and not a term used in voting in non-profits.

None of the above, I'm afraid.

The people who vote in board elections in non-profit associations and for-profit companies are the members of the non-profits and the shareholders (often by proxy) of the company, respectively.

Some non-profits and companies may limit the right to vote to a particular type of member or shareholder that the organization (company or association) defines in its own internal regulations or articles of association or by-laws.

In any case, the usual terms here are:

  • list of candidates for election to the board
  • list of nominees for election to the board

(electoral rolls is a political term, not a corporate governance term).

As suggested before in another question, the proper term under which more information can be found is: corporate governance and there are tons and tons of sites and organizations that can provide the proper terminology.

' Google: corporate governance + by-laws + board elections + voting

or various combinations thereof.

Question: [I] need to refer to the list of people who may cast a vote.

Answer: the people who cast votes are either voting members [of an association] or shareholders [of a company].


"Voting Members When nonprofits take the form of democratic, member-driven organizations or associations, they often choose to use voting members to elect their board. In this way, the members have the ultimate say over who is setting the major corporate goals and policies. Common examples of organizations that frequently use voting members include social clubs, unions and trade associations, chambers of commerce, professional associations, and churches.

Members have specific rights under state law and the corporation’s governing documents, namely the articles of incorporation and corporate bylaws. However, keep in mind that there are additional corporate formalities that voting membership nonprofits must follow. All meetings of voting members must be properly given notice of meeting and documented in the same manner as board meeting."

non-profits, example

Typically, some non-profits will allow a certain category of member to vote in elections. So, they might use the term like this: associate members are eligible to vote if [whatever].

That said, the overall category is: voting members and not "list of eligible voters". List of eligible voters is a political term.


  • voting members [non-profits]
  • shareholders with voting rights
  • list of members eligible to vote. [but not list of eligible voters! for a non-profit!)

The word eligible is used describe the right to vote but it is not used in either public/private companies or non-profits as a "thing". And typically, in either case the word list is reserved for the database admins.

Non-profits and voting members:

non-profits and voting, not a whiff of eligible anywhere

  • Feel free to ignore this – I just feel I need to clarify: Don't the two suggestions you provide refer to a list of people who may be elected? What I'm asking for is the term for the list of people who may cast a vote. Ie, the list that is used to check that a certain person may indeed vote in the election. The list where your name gets ticked off when you show up to cast your vote. And, just so you don't think I'm not listening – I've googled these precise things; that's how I've found most of the alternatives I'm asking about (and many others that I haven't asked about).
    – Helen
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 18:48
  • And oh! Now I think I understand the last few lines of your answer! (I didn't at first) But I don't need the word for the people who may cast a vote – I need the word for the list of people who may cast a vote :)
    – Helen
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 18:51
  • Ah, then I understand your answer and comments better. Thing is, the organisation I'm translating for does have a list, in the same way as there is a list in political elections, and they talk about this list at some length in the document I'm translating. In my own language the word for this list is the same as in political elections.
    – Helen
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 10:13
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    @Helen I suspected that this was about translation. You could have saved us a lot of trouble by stating that at the outset and by telling us which language. I happen to be a translator and the fact the source language uses the word list does not imply that English does. French non-profits talk about listes all over the place, for instance. We just say "the candidates" or the "x [number] of candidates". **You should clarify your original question with more information. When French says "la liste des candidats" there is often no reason to put in the word list in English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 15:26
  • I'm really sorry I've been unclear; it never occurred to me that it'd matter that it's about translation, but in hindsight I certainly see that it does. I do apologise for this. As for my question as such, I see no way round it, since the text I'm translating talks specifically about the physical list as such, on several different occasions, but I'm thinking "list of eligible voters" (as suggested by Jeff Morrow above) will be ok, seeing it's not a technical term in the same way as "electoral roll" or "electoral register".
    – Helen
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 13:57

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