Two-thirds of states request or require that you provide some form of identification before you’re allowed to vote at the polls.
Your state’s laws determine whether you will need to show an ID and if so, what kind.
About half of the states with voter ID laws accept only photo IDs, such as driver’s licenses, state-issued ID cards, military ID cards, and passports. Many of these states now offer a free voter photo ID card if you don’t have another form of valid photo ID.
Other states accept certain types of non-photo IDs, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, bank statements, and utility bills. Each state is specific about the documents it will accept as proof of identification. Be sure you know your state’s voter ID requirements prior to Election Day.
Even if you don’t have a form of ID that your state asks for, you may be allowed to vote. But some states require you to take additional measures after you vote to make sure that your vote counts.
Some states may ask you to sign a form affirming your identity. Other states will let you cast a provisional ballot, which is used when there is a question regarding a voter's eligibility. In some states, election officials will investigate the voter’s eligibility and decide whether to count the vote.
Other states require that you return to an election office within a few days and show an acceptable form of ID. If you don’t, your vote won’t be counted.
Even if you have a form of ID that your state accepts, you may be required to cast a provisional ballot if the name or address on your ID doesn’t match the name or address on your voter registration. This may happen, for example, if:
- You get married, change your last name, update your voter registration but present a driver’s license with your unmarried name.
- You move, present a current utility bill as proof of ID but forget to update your address on your voter registration beforehand.
Additionally, some states require you to notify your local registration office of any change in your name to remain a qualified registered voter.
You can avoid problems by always updating your voter registration whenever you move and if you change your name.
First time voters who didn’t register in person and haven’t previously provided proof of ID are required by federal law to show some form of identification.