The Joseph Rowntree Foundation commissioned the centre, at Plymouth University, to discover why Britain's local election turnout was the lowest in the European Union.
It unearthed a wide range of council practice, despite statutory requirements, and recommended a number of changes, including a polling day switch from Thursday to Sunday.
Other proposed changes, backed by a majority of local election officials, included:
-- Allowing electors to vote at any polling station within the local authority area, including booths in shopping centres
-- Providing facilities for people to vote before polling day
Many councils were sceptical that turnout could be improved by much. Some thought low turnouts were a national response to the reduced powers of local government and the poor public image of politicians.