Details of voter identification laws in the U.S. and how they differ across states. Thirty-two states have such laws, while the other 18 use other methods, such as signature verification, to confirm a voter’s identity. In general, these laws apply only to in-person voting and not mail-in ballots. The following is based on categorization by the National Conference of State Legislatures:
STRICT PHOTO ID
Seven states have passed photo identification laws that are considered “strict.” This means voters without acceptable photo identification must vote on a provisional ballot and take some additional steps after Election Day to ensure their ballot is counted. These states are: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.
NON-STRICT PHOTO ID
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Ten states have passed photo identification laws that are considered “non-strict” because at least some voters without acceptable photo identification have an option to cast a ballot that will be counted without any further action on the part of the voter. In some states, voters can simply sign an affidavit attesting to their identity or have a poll worker vouch for them. In others, voters can cast a provisional ballot and then election officials will determine later, through signature verification or another method, whether the ballot will be counted. These states are: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Texas.
STRICT NON-PHOTO ID
Two states, Arizona and Ohio, accept non-photo identification such as a bank statement or utility bill with a voter’s name and address on it. But they require those who don’t have this document to cast a provisional ballot and take additional steps after Election Day for their vote to be counted.
Thirteen states fall into this category. For the states that do not require photo IDs, the main difference between “strict” and “non-strict” is whether voters themselves must take any additional steps after casting a ballot. Poll workers can accept non-photo identification such as a bank statement or utility bill with a voter’s name and address on it. In some of these states, voters who don’t have such documents can simply sign an affidavit attesting to their identity or have a poll worker vouch for them. In others, voters can cast a provisional ballot, and election officials will determine later either through signature verification or another method if their ballot will count. These states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.
VARIATIONS ON THE THEME
Although South Carolina has a photo ID requirement, it is listed under the “non-strict, non-photo ID” category because there is a major exception for those who claim a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining a photo ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Under the rules, voters who have a reasonable impediment to obtaining photo ID can show a non-photo voter registration card instead, sign an affidavit attesting to the impediment and cast a provisional ballot that will be counted unless the county election commission has reason to believe the affidavit is false.
Colorado and Washington state also are listed under “non-strict, non-photo ID” even though the state’s voting is done largely by mail. This is because there is at least one location open on Election Day for in-person voting, and the ID requirements apply to those voters.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx .