Voter ID Laws and Voter ID Fraud In America Facts
Voter ID Laws are laws that require a valid ID to vote. 34 states currently have laws requiring some form of voter ID at the Polls. As of March 25, 2015, 32 of these voter identification laws are in force.
- Republicans say voter id is a necessary form of voter fraud protection.
- Democrats say in-person voter impersonation is in fact a essentially non-existent issue and that the laws are enacted to discourage voters who are likely to vote for the Democratic party in swing states.
Fact: Research shows that 11% of US citizens – or more than 21 million Americans — do not have government-issued photo identification. Those most likely to not have an ID are students, seniors, low-income Americans, and non-white Americans.
Keep reading to learn about voter ID or see our list of voter ID facts.
What are Voter ID Laws?
Before we discuss the facts on Voter ID let’s take a minute to understand what the voter ID law actually means.
Most states have had long standing voter ID laws that require proof of identification. The new voter ID laws (enacted in 31 states) require that all voters show a valid state issued photo ID before being allow to vote. Essentially this means that these states have limited the forms of identification that can be used to vote.
Each state has it’s own voter ID laws that define what it means in that state. Check out our section on specific voter ID laws by state.
Strict vs. Non-Strict and Photo vs. Non-Photo
There are four categories states fall into in reference to Voter ID requirements they are Strict Photo ID, Non-Strict Photo ID, Strict Non-Photo ID, and Non-Strict Non-Photo ID.
Strict vs. Non-Strict: In a strict state identification is required at the polls. If a voter does not have the required identification they can still cast a provisional ballot that will be counted if they return with a valid form of identification. In a Non Strict state they may be able to sign an affidavit or have someone vague for their identity.
Photo vs. Non-Photo: This is the distinction of whether the form of identification has to have a photo or not.
States that Have Voter ID Laws
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
places state-level voter ID laws in one of the following categories:
Strict photo ID in effect: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. In addition, North Carolina and Wisconsin have strict photo ID laws that are not yet in effect.
Photo ID in effect: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.
Strict non-photo ID in effect: Arizona, North Dakota, and Ohio.
Non-photo ID in effect: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington.
No ID required at polling place: California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. do not require ID to vote.
Why Do We Need A Voter ID Law?
Voter ID laws protect against voter fraud by ensuring that everyone who votes are who they say they are and are only able to vote once. No one would argue with the basic premise of the law. However, the recent updates to the Voter ID laws on a state level are severely limiting the use of forms of identification that can be used. These are the voter ID laws that are being called into question due to how it will make it very hard for many voters to cast their ballot.
Charts Below from NCSL.org
** This table refers to laws that are in effect in 2014; Pennsylvania also has enacted a strict photo voter ID law, but it has been struck down by state court and is not in effect. North Carolina also enacted a strict photo voter ID law in 2013, with an implementation date in 2016. Therefore, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are not included in this chart of in-force laws.
 Arkansas’s strict photo voter ID law was struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court, leaving a pre-existing non-strict, non-photo law in effect.
 Some might call Alabama’s law a strict photo identification law, because voters who don’t show a photo ID will generally be asked to cast a provisional ballot and then must bring the required ID to an election office by 5 p.m. on Friday after Election Day. However, there is an alternative: two election officials can sign sworn statements saying they know the voter.
 Some prefer to call Oklahoma a photo voter ID state, because most voters will show a photo ID before voting. However, Oklahoma law also permits a non-photo voter registration card issued by the appropriate county elections board to serve as proof of identity in lieu of photo ID.
 Texas enacted in 2011 a strict photo voter ID law, replacing its existing non-strict, non-photo ID law. It was implemented in 2013. On Oct. 9, 2014 a federal judge struck it down; on Oct. 14, a federal appeals court re-instated the law on the basis that it was too close to the general election to change the rules. On Oct. 18, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the law can be in effect for the November 2014 election.
 South Carolina has a photo ID requirement, but it does offer an alternative for people with a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining a photo ID. See details in Table 2, below.