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April 2011: 50-State Survey of Voter ID Standards

Data Highlight

What Counts: 50 State Laws About Voter ID
House Republican leaders are rolling out another version of H-351 today. The bill could be dubbed the “Voter Suppression Act of 2011” because it creates unnecessary barriers for citizens to vote. The new version claims to broaden the range of acceptable IDs from the original bill, but it also adds a complex procedure involving verifying signatures at the polling place for the voter who doesn’t present a government-issued photo ID. This complex procedure, open to considerable mischief and intimidation as written, would put North Carolina with the worst 5 states in the nation for erecting barriers for eligible voters.

Even among the 8 states that require a photo ID as the sole acceptable identity document, 5 of them allow the voter who lacks such an ID to sign a sworn statement about their identity and then cast a regular ballot. In contrast, the latest version of H-351 requires the sworn statement on top of requiring the voter to present another form of identification – and then requires an on-site signature verification process on top of that. That is more burdensome than the laws in 45 of the 50 states.

There are better ways to protect the integrity of our elections, fight fraud and respect a citizen’s constitutional right to vote in North Carolina.

As of Nov 22, 2010, the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that:

  • 23 of the 50 states (including North Carolina) do not require the voter to show any type of document each time they vote.
  • 27 states do require registered voters to show some form of ID each time they vote in person.
  • 22 of those 27 offer much easier access to voting than a requirement that the voter show a photo ID or a voter registration card:
  • 12 of those 27 states allows voters to present a wide range of documents, identical or very similar to the Help American Vote Act (HAVA) range of documents, which includes a government document with the voter’s name and current address, such as a tax bill, car registration, or letter from the Social Security Administration. (AL, AK, AR, AZ, CO, DE, MO, MT, OH, TX, UT, WA)
  • 10 additional states among the 27 allow the voter who doesn’t have the required ID to sign an affidavit or statement, under penalty of perjury, that they are who say they are, and then vote a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot. (CT, HI, ID, KY, LA, MI, ND, SD, TN, VA)

So in 45 of the 50 states, the voter is (a) permitted to vote without showing any document, OR (b) required to show a HAVA-standard document, OR (c) if lacking the required document, allowed to sign a sworn statement and vote.

The 5 remaining states are:

  • Oklahoma (as of July 2011) and South Carolina require either a current government-issued photo ID OR a voter registration card.
  • Florida requires solely a photo ID, but it can be a buyer’s club ID, student ID, neighborhood association ID, entertainment ID, etc.
  • Georgia and Indiana require solely a government-issued photo ID.

In these last 5 states, voters can cast a provisional ballot but it won’t count unless they return in matter of days to present the proper ID.