Voter ID laws

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A voter ID law is a law that requires some form of identification in order to vote or receive a ballot for an election. In most jurisdictions, voters must present an ID, usually a photo ID.[citation needed] Because of perceptions of a differing ability to obtain identification on the basis of socioeconomic status, some people in the United States and Canada consider them controversial.

A Guarani-Kaiowá native Brazilian shows her voter identification, September 2006


In Brazil voting is compulsory to all citizens between 18 and 70 years old.[1] In order to vote all citizens must:

Since 2006 the Brazilian Electoral Justice is re-registering voters with biometric identification. In the 2014 elections more than 22 million voters (out of 141 million[3]) will be identified by fingerprints.[4]


Federal elections[edit]

In Canada the Federal government will send out, by mail, an Elections Canada registration confirmation card, which the voter takes to the polling station, in advance detailing the where and when that individual should vote. To vote, one must prove their identity and address. A voter has three options:[5]

(1) Show one original piece of identification with photo, name and address like a driver's license or a health card. It must be issued by a government agency.

(2) Show two original pieces of authorized identification. Both pieces must have a name and one must also have an address. Examples: student ID card, birth certificate, public transportation card, utility bill, bank/credit card statement, etc.

(3) Take an oath and have an elector who knows the voter vouch for them (both of which will be required to make a sworn statement). This person must have authorized identification and their name must appear on the list of electors in the same polling division as the voter. This person can only vouch for one person and the person who is vouched for cannot vouch for another elector.

Provincial elections[edit]

However in some provinces like in Quebec, one has to establish their identity by presenting a health insurance card, a driver’s license, a Canadian passport, a certificate of Indian status or a Canadian Forces ID.[6] These are all photos IDs.


Germany has a community-based resident registration system and everyone eligible to vote receives a personal polling notification some weeks before the election by mail, indicating the polling station of the voter's precinct. Voters have to present their polling notification or a piece of photo ID (identity card, passport, form of identification) when voting. The election officials may refrain from demanding identification when the voter is personally known to them, given his or her name is in the polling station's register of voters.


The registration office of each municipality in the Netherlands maintains a registration of all residents. Every eligible voter receives a personal polling notification by mail some weeks before the election, indicating the polling station of the voter's precinct. Voters have to present their polling notification and a piece of photo ID (passport, identity card, or drivers license) when voting. Such photo ID may be expired but not more than 5 years.[7]


In cantons of Switzerland where the Landsgemeinde or "cantonal assembly" is still being used, men may identify themselves as freeman allowed to bear arms and vote by showing their sword. Women, and men who choose to do so, may show their voting card instead.[1]

United States[edit]

Because of Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, voting rights must be extended freely and without monetary cost to every legally eligible voter. Many states have some form of voter ID requirement to vote.[8]

Critics of voter ID laws in the United States claim that the laws are primarily designed to prevent certain, primarily lower class, voters from voters citing the lack of evidence of significant voter fraud. Proponents of these laws claim that they are necessary to maintain the integrity of elections.

Indelible ink[edit]

An alternative to voter ID in many countries is the use of indelible ink, into which a finger is dipped, which makes it difficult to vote more than once.

See also[edit]