Voter ID laws

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A voter ID law is a law that requires a person to have some form of identification 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, age, or race, 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] 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 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:[5]

  1. Show one original government-issued piece of identification with photo, name and address, like a driver's license or a health card.
  1. 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.
  1. 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]

However, in some provinces like in Quebec, a voter must 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 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 a piece of photo ID (identity card, passport, form of identification). Election officials may refrain from demanding identification if they personally know the voter and the voters 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 must present their polling notification and a piece of photo ID (passport, identity card, or drivers license). Such photo ID may be expired but not by more than five years.[7]


In Swiss cantons that still use the Landsgemeinde or cantonal assembly, 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.[8]

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, which have been allowed to stand by the Supreme Court.[9][10]

Voter ID law critics in the United States claim that proponents primarily intend the laws to keep certain, mostly lower economic class, voters from the polls. They cite 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, many countries use indelible ink, into which the voter dips a finger. The marked finger makes it difficult to vote more than once.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Zonas eleitorais, 25 de janeiro de 2013 - 16h05 (in Portuguese)
  3. ^ Biometria e urna eletrônica, 21 de junho de 2013 - 18h31 (in Portuguese)
  4. ^ The Biometrical System in Brazil, 27 de junho de 2013 - 18h29
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Elections 2012 (in Dutch)". Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Voter identification: First, show your face". The Economist. September 17, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Supreme Court lets Wisconsin voter ID law stand". USA Today. March 23, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.