Should You Have to Have an ID to Vote?

Should You Have to Have an ID to Vote?

Here’s the Background Story:

With the 2020 election season at our doorstep, a number of questions come up regarding our electoral process. Some are concerned with how the electoral college plays out in practice, while others are intensely studying voter demographics to make predictions (especially in key swing states). However, the process of voting itself doesn’t get as much media attention as other voting-related topics.

So, today we’ll cover a fundamental question regarding how Americans vote in the first place: Should you have an ID of some kind to vote?

Here Are the Contributing Factors:

Before beginning, some terms must be defined. Specifically, the difference between “strict” and “non-strict” voting ID requirements. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), these terms are defined as such:

  • Strict: Voters without acceptable identification must vote on a provisional ballot and also take additional steps after Election Day for it to be counted.
  • Non-strict: At least some voters without acceptable identification have an option to cast a ballot that will be counted without further action on the part of the voter.

Currently, 10 states have strict voter ID laws. Seven of those states are strictly photo-ID only. Strict, in this sense, means that one cannot vote at all without an ID of some form.

A total of 35 states require either strict or non-strict approaches towards voter ID. The other 15 don’t require any documents to vote. So, with 70% of the country adopting some measure of voter ID legislation, it’s fair to say that this is a relevant discussion.

Let’s cover some of the pros and cons of voter ID laws.


  • Voter ID laws prevent voter fraud (whether that be through impersonating living or deceased individuals) from occurring, which acts to protect our democracy.
  • It also keeps voters from casting more than one vote.
  • Voter IDs help to prevent illegal immigrants from participating in our elections, thereby skewing the will of the citizenry.


  • Strict voter ID laws reduce overall turnout by 2-3%
  • 11% of the population (21 million Americans) don’t have government-issued IDs that satisfy voting requirements. This is caused by a few factors:
    • The average cost of obtaining a voter ID is between $75-$175 when you add up document fees, travel expenses, and waiting times.
    • Rural areas are disproportionately affected due to longer travel times and more constrained hours of operations of their nearest ID office.
  • Some states discriminate against specific types of ID for voting purposes
    • Texas allows concealed weapons permits, but not student IDs.
    • Previously, North Carolina declined public assistance IDs and state employee IDs as eligible voting IDs. Both of which are disproportionately held by African-Americans. These laws were recently changed.
    • Previously, Wisconsin permitted active duty military IDs, but not Veterans Affairs IDs. These laws were recently changed.

Poll: Should You Have to Have an ID to Vote?

Final Tally Coming Soon!

% Voted Yes

% Voted No

What Do You Think?

Although some cases of voter ID legislation have been shown to be discriminatory, a number of those laws have been rolled back or changed. Speaking in terms of principles, are you in favor of states requiring Americans to have an ID to vote?

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