What Kind Of ID Do You Need To Vote? It Depends On Where You Live
The presidential election is still over one month away, but given the two, very polarizing candidates, and the extremely close polling numbers, it's likely an election you're going to want to make sure you can actually vote in — and that means making sure you don't get turned away on a technicality. What kinds of ID do you need to vote? Different states have different requirements for what you need to show to be eligible to cast your ballot. So it definitely isn't a bad idea to double-check those rules now, to make sure you've got everything you need.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states currently have laws that require voters to show some form of identification when they arrive at the polls (although two of those states — North Carolina and West Virginia — technically won't require it in the election in November). The remaining states have other verification procedures, like checking a signature, or signing an affidavit. That in itself is kind of confusing, but there is further variation among the ID-requiring states as well: some require photo ID, some require non-photo ID, and some are "strict" while others are "non-strict," meaning there are other options available to cast a vote even without the required ID.
Voters casting ballots in Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, or Wisconsin must have photo identification in order to have their ballot counted, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Individuals who show up at the polls without ID can cast a provisional ballot, but must return with acceptable photo ID in order to have it be considered valid. According to USA.gov, photo ID includes "driver’s licenses, state-issued ID cards, military ID cards, and passports," but again, each state has slightly different rules about this. In Georgia, for example, expired driver's licenses count (so long as they are Georgia licenses), while in Indiana, photo ID must be current. Individual requirements by state can be found here.
Arizona, North Dakota, and Ohio do not require photo ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but they do require eligible non-photo ID, and if you don't have that with you, your vote will likely be only provisional. According to USA.gov, non-photo ID is usually considered to be a birth certificate, Social Security card, bank statement, or a utility bill which shows a correct name and address, though individual states vary in what they will accept, so double-checking is key.
All remaining states have non-strict policies about ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which means that, in most cases, those without acceptable ID can still cast a provisional ballot without having to take further steps to ensure it's accepted. But even in a non-strict state, ensuring you have appropriate ID if you can is important, as it will make the entire process much easier, and will avoid any delays or confusion about whether your vote is allowed to count.
Even if you think you're in the clear when it comes to acceptable ID though, it's worth noting that anyone who has moved, or who has changed their name (through marriage, for example), might have trouble at the polling station if your ID doesn't match the information on your voter registration. USA.gov recommends that anyone who changes their name or address updates their voter registration right away, which can be done online at CanIVote.org (you can also double check ID requirements there, as well as verify the location of your polling station).
Voting for the first time ever? There will likely be some additional requirements, possibly including photo ID depending on where you live. You'll also need to register to vote before showing up at the polls, but if you haven't done so already, don't worry — Romper and Bustle can help with that!
From now until November, all Bustle and Romper voting content will include this easy-to-use registration tool from Rock the Vote, in an effort to help register 100,000 women to vote between now and Nov. 8, to ensure that women's voices are heard this election.
And, editors from Bustle, Romper, and our partner publications will be on the ground around the country in early October, trying to help people register so their voices can be heard.
Figuring out exactly what you'll need and how to vote might seem a bit confusing, but there are lots of resources online outlining exactly what you will need depending on where you live. And taking the extra time to double-check those requirements will totally be worth it when election day rolls around, because having the right to vote is a huge privilege and responsibility, no matter who you plan on voting for. Plus, you get a cool sticker. What else could you ask for?