Do You Need an ID to Vote?

elections Oct 20, 2020

With early voting underway in many US states, voters are eagerly heading to the polls (and mailing their ballots) in record numbers. But in some states, your vote won’t count without proper identification. 34 states require some form of ID to vote, including many that require a photo ID like a drivers’ license. See the map below to know the rules in your state, and read on for common questions about voter identification.

A total of 34 states require voters to provide some form of ID. 18 require photo ID. 

What is the purpose of requiring voters to bring ID?

Voter ID laws are in place to prevent people from impersonating someone else  to cast a ballot, although voter fraud is extremely rare in the U.S. They first appeared in 2006; prior to that voters were only required to provide ID if they were first-time voters who had registered by mail. Voter ID laws are highly controversial and have been sharply opposed by voters’ rights advocates as a barrier to voting.

Do voters have to provide ID to vote by mail?

Although voter ID laws vary by state, most states that require ID do enforce it for mail-in voting. People usually have to provide a copy of their ID either when applying for a mail-in ballot or when sending in their ballot.  Without a copy of their ID attached,  voters' ballots will be thrown out.

What are acceptable forms of ID for voting?

If your state requires a photo ID, you will likely need to provide a passport, drivers’ license,  military ID or state ID. You may be able to use a student ID with your photo on it, but only some states will accept IDs which were not issued by the government. If your state accepts non-photo IDs, you can use a document with your name and address, like a utility bill. Double-check acceptable forms of ID by state with’s guide here.

Get Your Voter ID Ready to Cast Your Ballot

If you live in a state that requires Voter ID, make sure you provide one that meets the law’s requirements. You may be able to get a new ID online, depending on the rules in your state. We can also help you get an appointment at the DMV to renew your drivers’ license, since most states will not accept an expired license as a form of ID. If you’d prefer to use a passport as your Voter ID we can help you renew your passport with our passport concierge service. If you’re voting by mail, you can track your ballot for free with our ballot tracker. We will be covering voting news from now until election day, so follow along with us on the Skip blog for nonpartisan information about the U.S. election.

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