As election day approaches, there is plenty of debate over the status of individual races – will Georgia turn blue? Will the Democrats succeed in flipping the House? A more pressing question for some voters may be whether they have the correct identification to allow them to vote. Currently, 34 states have some form of voter ID law. Seven states (Wisconsin, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, Indiana, and Georgia) have passed strict photo ID laws, which means that a prospective voter must present a document (such as a driver’s license, military ID, or tribal ID) with a photograph in order to vote. Three other states (Ohio, North Dakota, and Arizona) require some form of non-photo ID; this may include bank statements or utility bills. A host of other states request but do not require photo ID. These states include Texas, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Michigan, Louisiana, Idaho, Hawaii, Florida, Arkansas, and Alabama. An additional fourteen states ask for some identification (not necessarily photo ID) but, again, do not require identification. These states are Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.
In states that have strict identification requirements, whether those states demand photo ID or some other form, a voter who shows up at the polls without the necessary identification can vote only with a provisional ballot, and the voter may have to submit appropriate ID to an election office to ensure that the provisional ballot is counted. In states whose identification requirements are not as strict, voters have the option of signing an affidavit or of submitting material to poll workers that establishes their identity. Some states (Vermont, Utah, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Montana, Florida, and Colorado) allow voters who lack identification to vote on provisional ballots without any additional documentation. Election officials may then review the ballot and decide whether the voter was eligible to cast the ballot.
Before voting, it is helpful to know your state’s laws and to educate yourself about options available to you. Ballotpedia offers a summary of the voter ID requirements in every state. Remember that voting is a right and it cannot be withheld without good reason.
Kathleen Davies is a Staff Writer for GetLegal.com. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and has practiced law and taught legal writing and advocacy.