Voter identification laws disenfranchise voters who are unable to produce personal identification documents to the satisfaction of the state. According to the Government Accountability Office, states that made voter ID requirements more restrictive in advance of the 2012 presidential election saw a steeper drop-off in voter turnout than other states—with a disproportionate effect among African American and young voters. Seniors are also disproportionately affected by voter ID rules: According to AARP, approximately 8 million people over 65 years of age, or almost 20 percent of this age group, do not have a government-issued photo ID and are more likely to lack birth certificates.

Thirty-three states have passed laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification to cast a ballot. Eight states—predominantly southern, conservative-leaning states, plus the recent addition of Wisconsin—require photo identification from voters in order to cast a ballot.

For a more detailed explanation of each factor, including citations, please download the full report.

Click to view scoring methodology
  1. Current Policy in State
    Points added to score
  2. State does not require a document to vote
    0 points
  3. State law requires poll workers to request identification, but a photo ID is not required
    2.5 points
  4. State law requires poll workers to request a photo ID
    5 points
  5. State law requires voters to show any identification—photo or nonphoto—to poll workers prior to casting a ballot
    10 points
Policy Recommendation for This Factor
Eliminate voter ID laws

Whatever form voter ID laws take—photo or non-photo, strict or non-strict—these restrictions lead to decreased voter turnout and disproportionately affect poor and minority voters. States should end voter ID laws to ensure that every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot.

Click here to see a full list of policy recommendations to improve the health of state democracies based on the findings of this report.

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