DemDaily: Bullies at the Ballot Box

October 18, 2018

Identification requirements for voting have been a part of the electoral system for almost 70 years, but remain one of the most contentious and contested aspects of election policy today.

Advocates maintain it is necessary to prevent fraud at the polls, while opponents argue the laws are costly and used as a tool to disenfranchise eligible voters.

34 states have laws require voters to show some form of identification at the polls, while the remaining 16 states and DC use other methods to verify the identity of voters.

The last two years have seen more than a dozen legal challenges in states across the country where more conservative legislatures are attempting to impose voting restrictions that, in most cases, adversely affect minority, Native American, low-income and handicapped voters.

Voter Identification (ID) Laws for In-Person Voting fall into two categories: Photo v. Non-Photo Identification, and within those two, Strict or Non-Strict. Within each category individual states make exceptions for those voters who don't have a photo ID.

The new US Supreme Court just upheld North Dakota's law requiring ID with a street address. Most American Indian tribes in the state don't have street addresses on reservations.

Exceptions include religious objection to being photographed (AR, IN, KS, MS, SC, TN, TX, WI), are indigent (IN, TN), "have a reasonable impediment" to getting an ID (SC), do not have an ID as a result of a recent natural disaster (TX), and for victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking who have a "confidential listing" (WI).

Strict States: In states with strict ID laws, a voter must present identification in order to cast a valid ballot, such as a driver's license, government or state-issued ID, military ID or tribal ID.

Voters unable to show ID are given a provisional ballot, to return within a designated time period with acceptable ID or their ballot will not be counted.

Non-Strict States: Exceptions to a required photo ID are allowed, but vary greatly by state. Exceptions may include signing an affidavit, having a poll worker vouch for voter, producing bank or billing statements, and having election officials verify a voter's identity after the vote is cast, or having the voter return an inquiry mailed to their reported address.

2018 Voter ID Laws by State

                                                              Click for Ballotpedia's Interactive Map

The Laws in Your State
Know the laws in your state and make sure your vote will count!
Strict photo ID required: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Strict non-photo ID required: Arizona, North Dakota and Ohio.
Non-Strict photo ID required: Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Texas.
Non-Strict non-photo ID required: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.

Texas law, upheld by the 5th District Court in April, requires government-issued ID. Handgun licenses are accepted, but not college student IDs.


No ID required to vote at ballot box: California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wyoming, Washington, DC and the US Territories.

(State Voter Registration Deadlines)


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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: NCSL, Ballotpedia, CNN

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