Voter identification laws

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

A voter identification law is a law that requires a person to show some form of identification in order to vote. In some jurisdictions requiring photo IDs, voters who do not have photo ID often must have their identity verified by someone else (such as in Sweden) or sign a Challenged Voter Affidavit (such as in New Hampshire) in order to receive a ballot to vote.



In Argentina voting is compulsory for all citizens between 18 and 70 years old, non-compulsory for those older than 70 and between 16 and 18, and citizens with domiciles in foreign countries. To vote they must present a valid Documento Nacional de Identidad at the corresponding voting center.

Most countries in Latin America have similar policies.


In Australia voting is compulsory[1] for all adult citizens. Failure to cast a ballot may result in a small fine, currently AU$20.[2]

No form of ID is required to cast a ballot in person at a polling location; instead, voters are asked three questions before being issued a ballot, so that they can be checked off the electoral roll: name, residence address, and have you voted before in this election?[3] On election day, voters can vote at any polling place in their state of residence, and at selected polling places in other states.[4]

If a person is voting by mail they are required to include their Australian driver's licence, or Australian passport number and the address they are currently enrolled under.[5]

To register to vote, Australians must fill out a form, provide identification,[6] and send it in the mail. After submission, the form’s contents, in particular the registered voter’s identity in most states, are not double checked by the government.[7]

In October 2021, The Liberal Morrison government had plans for a Voter ID Law, where under the proposed voter integrity bill, a voter unable to produce ID can still vote if their identity can be verified by another voter, or by casting a declaration vote, which requires further details such as date of birth and a signature. This bill came about despite Tom Rogers, the Australian electoral commissioner, saying that “evidence of multiple voting to date is vanishingly small”.[8] One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, has claimed credit for the Coalition's voter integrity bill, saying she made voter identification a condition for her support.[9][10] The Labor party and the Greens were opposed to the Voter ID bill, forcing the Government to approach the remaining crossbench senators – Griff Stirling, Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie – to try and pass the bill. After Senator Patrick came out against the Bill, calling it "a solution looking for a problem"[11] and Senator Lambie announced her intention to vote against the bill citing more time was required to consider the bill, the Government announced that they would defer the issue until after the election.[12][13]


In Brazil voting is compulsory to all citizens between 18 and 70 years old.[14] To vote, all citizens must:

  • Be registered to vote, getting a voter ID card, called "Título Eleitoral" aka "Título de Eleitor" in Brazil. Presenting the voter ID card when voting is optional
  • Report in person to the voting section[15]
  • Present an official identity document with photo, usually the regular ID card (cédula de identidade)

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[16] will be identified by fingerprints.[17]


Federal elections[edit]

In Canada, the Federal government mails an Elections Canada registration confirmation card, which the voter takes to the polling station. The card tells the individual where and when to vote. Voters must prove their identity and address with one of three options:[18]

  • Show one original government-issued piece of identification with photo, name and address, like a driver's license or a health card.
  • 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.
  • Take an oath and have an elector who knows the voter vouch for them (both of whom must 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]

Voter identification regulations vary from province to province. In Ontario, "ID is required to vote or to add or update your voter information on the voters list" and a substantial number of acceptable IDs, which do not need to be photo IDs, are accepted.[19] In Quebec, the voter must show one of five government-issued photo IDs, and if lacking any of these, will be directed to the identity verification panel.[20] In British Columbia, "all voters must prove their identity and residential address before voting", with three options offered for identification.[21]


In France, voters must prove their identity to vote: at the registration (proof of address—A phone, water or electricity invoice...—and an identity document that proves your nationality—National Identity Card or Passport—and on the day of the vote, in towns larger than 1000 inhabitants, an identity document is required.[22][23]


In Finnish elections, eligible voters are sent a notice of the right to vote (notification of eligibility) to their home address by mail. The notification of eligibility will designate a voter's polling station, where voters must cast their vote, if voting on election day. Advance voting is possible at any of the general advance polling stations in Finland or abroad. Voters must present an identity document when voting. Voters are encouraged to bring along their notice of the right to vote.[24]


Germany uses a community-based resident registration system. Everyone eligible to vote receives a personal polling notification by mail, some weeks before the election. The notification indicates the voter's precinct polling station. Voters must present their polling notification and if asked a piece of photo ID (identity card, passport, or other form of identification). As a rule identification is not required other than by the polling notification. If the voter cannot present the notification, a valid ID and an entry in the register of voters can qualify for voting.[25][26]


Voters identify themselves by their ID cards and are given the full number of ballot papers for the constituency plus a blank ballot paper and an empty envelope.

From: Elections in Greece


Voting is voluntary for all citizens 18 years or older. All voters should show a photo ID and an address card. To prevent the double voting they need to register themselves if they want to vote at a different place than their address on their address card.


Voting is voluntary for all citizens 18 years or older. All voters must present photo ID to vote for their preferred candidate. To prevent double-voting fraud, every voter is checked against the national voter database before their ballot is placed into the ballot box.[27]


The Indian voter ID card is an identity document issued by the Election Commission of India to adult domiciles of India who have reached the age of 18, which primarily serves as an identity proof for Indian citizens while casting their ballot in the country's municipal, state, and national elections. It also serves as general identity, address, and age proof for other purposes such as buying a mobile phone SIM card or applying for a passport. It also serves as a Travel Document to travel to Nepal and Bhutan by Land or Air[28] It is also known as Electoral Photo ID Card (EPIC). It was first introduced in 1993 during the tenure of the Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan.[29] There are 11 other types of alternative identification documents specified that can be accepted for voting[30]


Similar to Germany, there is a national voters database and photo ID is required (identity card, passport or driving license).[31]


Italian voter card ("Tessera elettorale")

Italy requires voters to present a photo ID (ID card, driver license, passport) and a voter card ("Tessera elettorale"), which can also be issued on election day.


In principle, Luxembourg requires voters to present their passport, identity card, residence permit or visa when voting. However, a derogation allows for this requirement to be waived if a member of staff at the polling station can personally vouch for the identity of the voter.[32]


In Mexico voting is a voluntary right and is exercised protected by secrecy. Electoral laws are created by the federal government through the INE: National Electoral Institute (formerly IFE: Instituto Nacional Electoral 1990-2014). A free photo ID or elector's card is issued by right to all citizens of Mexico over 18, but sometimes months prior. Being allowed to commence paperwork before turning 18 is decided upon the day and month of birth, and how it plays in the current year's electoral calendar, as the institute suspends all new registries several months prior to any election. This action allows young Mexicans turning 18 within an inactive period to still enroll and guarantee their right to participate in the coming election. Full legal age in Mexico is 18 for both born and naturalized citizens.

The voting ID card was introduced in 1990 by the now inactive IFE as a tool to "properly identify electors in a country with a history of voters casting multiple ballots and curious vote counts resulting in charges of fraud."[33] After 2014 the IFE was deemed permanently inactive due to minor constitutional reforms; therefore, the INE was simultaneously created. Although both institutes carry out almost exactly the same tasks and duties, this change allowed for yet further homogenization of elections in the country and opening way to what many Mexicans and members of the international community call the first ever legal elections in the country, in 2017. The INE elector's card is currently used in Mexico as the main mean of age and identity validation for legal, commercial and financial purposes, making this a vital document for all Mexicans over the age of 18, and consequently broadening the chance for more citizens participating on election day.


In Namibia, voter ID is needed to cast a ballot. Voter registration cards include a photo and evidence of citizenship.[34]


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 must present their polling notification and a piece of photo ID (passport, identity card, or drivers license (a passport or ID is compulsory from the age of 14)). Such photo ID may be expired but not by more than five years.[35]

New Zealand[edit]

You do not need to present any identification when voting, or enrolling to vote, in elections in New Zealand.[36][37] When voting, voters need to confirm their name and sometimes their address and occupation, and will then be marked off the electoral roll.[38] In more recent elections (such as in 2017 and 2020), Easyvote cards were mailed to enrolled voters to make the process faster.[38][39]


Voting in Norway is voluntary for citizens 18 years or older (16 in some municipalities). Every person who is eligible to vote is sent a polling card in the mail about 6 months prior to the election. The polling card recommends the closest voting location to you, usually the closest school, community building or similar. Voters are not required to vote at their assigned location, but they are required to vote within their municipality, unless voting early. Early votes can be submitted at any official polling place in the country. The polling card contains the date(s) of the election, opening times of polling locations and information on how to vote. While it is not mandatory to bring the polling card on the day(s) of the election, it generally makes the process smoother. However, a photographic ID, such as a passport or a driver's license, is required to vote. During the election day after you pick your party, you present your photographic ID and optionally your poll card to the poll attendants who verifies the information against a database, and record that you have voted.[40]


When physically voting on election day or during early voting, every voter must provide a valid identification document (such as a passport, drivers license, or an ID card from the Swedish Tax Agency). If a voter is missing valid identification, another person with valid ID-documents can certify the identity of the documentless voter.[41]


There are up to three different ways to vote at the national and cantonal level in Switzerland: 1) directly at the polling station, bringing along some ID (ID card, passport) and the voting material sent by mail three to four weeks before election day; 2) postal voting, by following the instructions included in the voting material sent by mail; 3) voting online, offered in 10 cantons at the beginning of 2019, but not yet at the national level.[42] E-voting is a contentious issue, particularly with regard to a projected digital ID, which raises concerns regarding confidentiality, security and verifiability.

United Kingdom[edit]

Photographic identification is mandatory to vote in elections in Northern Ireland.[43]

Before any election all eligible voters are sent a poll card by their local authority, but it is not a requirement to be in possession of a poll card to vote.[44] Voters are asked to give their name and address at the polling station.

A voter ID trial was held for the 2018 United Kingdom local elections by the national Conservative government. Voters in 5 local authorities in England (Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking) were required to show ID before voting.[45][46] The legal basis for the trial has been contested.[47]

Voter ID legislation was part of the 2021 Queen's Speech.[48]

In 2022 The national Conservative government passed the Elections Act 2022. The Act introduces voter photo identification for in-person voting to Great Britain for the first time. The requirement would apply to UK general elections, English local elections, and police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales.[49][50]

United States[edit]

Voter ID laws by state, as of April 2022:
  Photo ID required (Strict)
  Photo ID requested (Non-strict)
  Non-photo ID required (Strict)
  Non-photo ID requested (Non-strict)
  No ID required to vote

Many states have some form of voter ID requirement, which have been allowed to stand by the Supreme Court.[51][52] Fourteen states have a requirement for a photo ID.

Public opinion polls have shown broad support for voter ID laws among voters in the United States. A 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 75% of likely voters "believe voters should be required to show photo identification, such as a driver's license, before being allowed to vote."[53] A 2012 Fox News poll produced similar results, revealing that 87% of Republicans, 74% of independent voters, and 52% of Democrats supported new voter ID laws.[54] More recently, a 2021 Pew Research poll showed that 93% of Republicans and 61% of Democrats[a] favor requirements that voters show government-issued photo ID to vote.[55]

  1. ^ Figures include Independents who reported leaning towards either party.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Voting within Australia – Frequently Asked Questions".
  2. ^ "Post–election processes – frequently asked questions".
  3. ^ Australian Electoral Commission: Polling
  4. ^ Australian Electoral Commission: Ways to Vote
  5. ^ "General Postal Voters".
  6. ^ "Voter ID".
  7. ^ "Voter Identification in Australia —".
  8. ^ Karp, Paul (October 27, 2021). "Proposed voter ID laws 'real threat' to rights of Indigenous Australians and people without homes". The Guardian. Retrieved November 20, 2022.
  9. ^ "Voter ID laws on the cards ahead of next federal election". October 27, 2021.
  10. ^ "Pauline Hanson claims credit for Coalition's controversial voter ID laws". October 28, 2021.
  11. ^ "Proposed voter ID laws a 'solution looking for a problem', Senator Rex Patrick says". November 1, 2021.
  12. ^ "Government drops push to pass controversial voter ID bill ahead of next election". December 1, 2021.
  13. ^ "Government drops bid to pass voter ID laws before next election". December 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Timothy J. Power: Compulsory for Whom? Mandatory Voting and Electoral Participation in Brazil, 1986–2006, in: Journal of Politics in Latin America. S. 97–122
  15. ^ Zonas eleitorais, 25 de janeiro de 2013 – 16h05 (in Portuguese)
  16. ^ Biometria e urna eletrônica, 21 de junho de 2013 – 18h31 (in Portuguese)
  17. ^ The Biometrical System in Brazil, 27 de junho de 2013 - 18h29
  18. ^
  19. ^ "ID Requirements".
  20. ^ "Identification of the voter".
  21. ^ "Voter ID". April 3, 2017.
  22. ^ "Listes électorales : nouvelle inscription" (in French). Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  23. ^ "Quelle pièce d'identité peut-on présenter pour voter ?" (in French). Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  24. ^ "Elections and voting in Finland".
  25. ^ "Der Bundeswahlleiter". Archived from the original on July 27, 2013.
  26. ^ Bundeswahlordnung § 56, paragraph 3
  27. ^ "24/2000: Lög um kosningar til Alþingis".
  28. ^ "Indian Visiting Abroad". Bureau of Immigration.
  29. ^ "Election Commission of India". Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  30. ^ "11 documents will be accepted as ID proof". The Hindu. March 21, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  31. ^ Retrieved January 24, 2023. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "Élections législatives, européennes et communales - Legilux". Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  33. ^ Agren, David (January 25, 2012). "Mexico's national voter IDs part of culture". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 28, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  34. ^ Namibian, The. "A to Z guide to voting". The Namibian. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  35. ^ "Frequently asked questions (FAQs)". Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  36. ^ Orr, Graeme. "Voter ID is a bad idea. Here's why". The Conversation. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  37. ^ "No ID needed to enrol - or vote - in New Zealand". RNZ. October 6, 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  38. ^ a b "How to vote in the 2017 NZ election when it early voting opens". Stuff. September 7, 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  39. ^ "Election 2020: When, where and how you can cast your vote in the election". Stuff. July 27, 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  40. ^ "Elections 2012 (in Dutch)". Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  41. ^ "Rösta i din vallokal på valdagen".
  42. ^ Democracy. The Swiss Political System – Where and when to vote?
  43. ^ "Elections". NI Direct. NI Direct. November 13, 2015. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  44. ^ "Ways of voting". HM Government. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  45. ^ Swinford, Steven (December 27, 2016). "Voters may have to show ID to combat voter fraud in 'vulnerable' areas". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  46. ^ Press Association (April 28, 2018). "Polling station voter ID plans are deeply flawed, say critics". The Guardian. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  47. ^ Walker, Peter (June 6, 2018). "UK's voter ID trial in local elections could be illegal – barristers". Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  48. ^ "Queen's Speech: What did she say at the State Opening of Parliament?". The Independent. May 11, 2021. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  49. ^ "Elections Bill: MPS approve plans for voter ID checks". BBC News. January 18, 2022.
  50. ^ "MPS vote for controversial legislation to introduce voter ID".
  51. ^ "Voter identification: First, show your face". The Economist. September 17, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  52. ^ "Supreme Court lets Wisconsin voter ID law stand". USA Today. March 23, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  53. ^ Roff, Peter (June 10, 2011). "Poll: Democrats and Republicans Support a Voter ID-Check Law". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  54. ^ Blanton, Dana (April 18, 2012). "Fox News Poll: Most think voter ID laws are necessary". Fox News. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  55. ^ "Republicans and Democrats Move Further Apart in Views of Voting Access". Pew Research Center. April 22, 2021.