Voter Identification laws

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

A voter ID law is a law that requires a person to show some form of identification on election day. In many jurisdictions requiring voter IDs (such as New Hampshire), voters who do not have photo ID often must sign a Challenged Voter Affidavit in order to receive a ballot to vote. Because of perceptions of a differing means to obtain identification on the basis of socioeconomic status, age, or race, some people consider these laws as controversial.



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. 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, where voting is not compulsory for all adult citizens, although it is compulsory to attend a polling place and have your name ticked off as having attended. No form of ID is required to cast a ballot at an election; instead, voters are asked three questions before being issued a ballot, so that they can be checked off the electoral roll: (1) what is your full name; (2) where do you live; and (3) have you voted before in this election?[1] On election day, voters can vote at any polling place in their state of residence, and at selected polling places in other states.[2]


In Brazil voting is compulsory to all citizens between 18 and 70 years old.[3] To vote, all citizens must:

  • Be registered to vote, getting a voter ID card, called "Título Eleitoral" aka "Títilo de Eleitor" in Brazil
  • Report in person to the voting section[4]
  • 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[5] will be identified by fingerprints.[6]


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:[7]

  • 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]

However, in some provinces a voter must establish their identity by presenting a health insurance card, driver’s license, Canadian passport, certificate of Indian status, or a Canadian Forces ID card.[8] These are all photos IDs.


In France, you have to prove your identity to vote: at the registration (proof of address —A phone, water or electricity invoice...— and an identity document that prove your nationality —National Identity Card or Passport— and the day of the vote, in town larger than 1000 inhabitants, an identity document is required.[9][10]


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 (compulsory in Germany), passport, 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.[11][12]


Voting is voluntary for all citizens 18 years or older. All voters must present photo ID before being allowed to vote. To prevent double-voting fraud, every voter is checked against the national voter database before their ballot is placed into the ballot box.[13]


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 [14] 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.[15]


Similar to Germany, there is a national voters database and photo ID is required (identity card, passport or driving license).[16]


In Mexico, voting rules are established by the federal government (the National Electoral Institute), and free photo ID cards are issued to citizens of Mexico to exercise their right to vote in that country. The voting ID card was introduced in the 1990s to "properly identify electors in a country with a history of voters casting multiple ballots and curious vote counts resulting in charges of fraud."[17]


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.[18]


Voting in Norway is voluntary for citizens 18 years or older (16 in some municipalities). Every person who is eligible to vote are sent a polling card in the mail a while before the election. The polling card recommends the closest voting location to you, but you are not required to vote there, but you are required to vote within your municipality. 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. [19]


When physically voting on election day, 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.[20]


In Swiss cantons (i.e. the subnational political level in Switzerland) that still use the Landsgemeinde or cantonal assembly; Historically, or in Appenzell until the admission of women, the only proof of citizenship necessary for men to enter the voting area was to show their ceremonial sword or Swiss military sidearm (bayonet); this gave proof that you were a freeman allowed to bear arms and to vote. Women, and men who choose to do so, may show their voting card instead.[21]

United Kingdom[edit]

Photographic identification is mandatory to vote in elections in Northern Ireland.[22]

There is currently no requirement to have identification to vote in elections in England, Scotland and Wales, before any election all eligible voters are sent a Poll card by their local authority although it is not a requirement to be in possession of a Poll card to vote.[23]

A trial was held for the United Kingdom local elections, 2018 - voters in 5 local authorities in England (Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking) were required to show ID before voting as part of a pilot scheme to combat Electoral fraud.[24][25] The legal basis for the trial has been contested.[26]

United States[edit]

The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the conditioning of the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax. However, many states have some form of voter ID requirement, which have been allowed to stand by the Supreme Court.[27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Australian Electoral Commission: Polling
  2. ^ Australian Electoral Commission: Ways to Vote
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Zonas eleitorais, 25 de janeiro de 2013 – 16h05 (in Portuguese)
  5. ^ Biometria e urna eletrônica, 21 de junho de 2013 – 18h31 (in Portuguese)
  6. ^ The Biometrical System in Brazil, 27 de junho de 2013 - 18h29
  7. ^
  8. ^ "". Archived from the original on October 1, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
  9. ^ "Listes électorales : nouvelle inscription" (in French). Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  10. ^ "Quelle pièce d'identité peut-on présenter pour voter ?" (in French). Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Bundeswahlordnung § 56, paragraph 3
  13. ^
  14. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Election Commission of India". Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Agren, David (25 January 2012). "Mexico's national voter IDs part of culture". USA Today. Archived from the original on 28 Nov 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Frequently asked questions (FAQs)". Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  19. ^ "Elections 2012 (in Dutch)". Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Elections". NI Direct. NI Direct. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Ways of voting". HM Government. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  24. ^ Swinford, Steven (27 December 2016). "Voters may have to show ID to combat voter fraud in 'vulnerable' areas". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  25. ^ Press Association (2018-04-28). "Polling station voter ID plans are deeply flawed, say critics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  26. ^ Walker, Peter (2018-06-06). "UK's voter ID trial in local elections could be illegal – barristers". Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  27. ^ "Voter identification: First, show your face". The Economist. September 17, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  28. ^ "Supreme Court lets Wisconsin voter ID law stand". USA Today. March 23, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.