Voter Identification laws

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A Guarani-Kaiowá Native 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.



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, although it is not compulsory to be registered on the electoral roll and is therefore difficult to enforce. Voting is only enforceable for those on the roll. Failure to cast a ballot may result in a small fine, currently AU$20.

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?[2] On election day, voters can vote at any polling place in their state of residence, and at selected polling places in other states.[3]. However; In order to be registered, a form must be filled out and an ID must be proven.[4]


In Brazil voting is compulsory to all citizens between 18 and 70 years old.[5] To vote, all citizens must:

  • Be registered to vote, getting a voter ID card, called "Título Eleitoral" aka "Títilo de Eleitor" in Brazil. Presenting the voter ID card when voting is optional
  • Report in person to the voting section[6]
  • 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[7] will be identified by fingerprints.[8]


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:[9]

  • 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 provinces to provinces. 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.[10] 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.[11] In British Columbia, "all voters must prove their identity and residential address before voting", with three options offered for identification.[12]


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.[13][14]


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.[15][16]


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 themself 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 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.[17]


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[18] 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.[19] There are 11 other types of alternative identification documents specified that can be accepted for voting[20]


Similar to Germany, there is a national voters database and photo ID is required (identity card, passport or driving license).[21]


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 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."[22] 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.


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.[23]


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.[24]


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.[25]


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.[26]

United Kingdom[edit]

Photographic identification is mandatory to vote in elections in Northern Ireland.[27]

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.[28]

A trial was held for the 2018 United Kingdom local elections - 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 program to combat Electoral fraud.[29][30] The legal basis for the trial has been contested.[31]

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 for citizens of the United States. Many states have some form of voter ID requirement, which have been allowed to stand by the Supreme Court.[32][33] Fourteen states have a strict requirement for a photo ID.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Voting within Australia – Frequently Asked Questions".
  2. ^ Australian Electoral Commission: Polling
  3. ^ Australian Electoral Commission: Ways to Vote
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ Zonas eleitorais, 25 de janeiro de 2013 – 16h05 (in Portuguese)
  7. ^ Biometria e urna eletrônica, 21 de junho de 2013 – 18h31 (in Portuguese)
  8. ^ The Biometrical System in Brazil, 27 de junho de 2013 - 18h29
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Listes électorales : nouvelle inscription" (in French). Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  14. ^ "Quelle pièce d'identité peut-on présenter pour voter ?" (in French). Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Bundeswahlordnung § 56, paragraph 3
  17. ^
  18. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Election Commission of India". Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  20. ^ "11 documents will be accepted as ID proof". The Hindu. March 21, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  21. ^
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Frequently asked questions (FAQs)". Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  24. ^ "Elections 2012 (in Dutch)". Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Elections". NI Direct. NI Direct. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  28. ^ "Ways of voting". HM Government. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  29. ^ Swinford, Steven (December 27, 2016). "Voters may have to show ID to combat voter fraud in 'vulnerable' areas". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  30. ^ Press Association (April 28, 2018). "Polling station voter ID plans are deeply flawed, say critics". The Guardian. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  31. ^ Walker, Peter (June 6, 2018). "UK's voter ID trial in local elections could be illegal – barristers". Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  32. ^ "Voter identification: First, show your face". The Economist. September 17, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  33. ^ "Supreme Court lets Wisconsin voter ID law stand". USA Today. March 23, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.