As a European, I am always baffled by the concept that requiring an ID to vote is so controversial in the US, for me is one of the most "natural" things.

I hear that it is because obtaining an ID in the US in no simple matter, is it true?

What are the historical and political reasons that make the topic so controversial?

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    @Skooba - ID's are really easy to get if you are a legal citizen, have all the required documentation on hand, have a means of transportation to get to the place where ID applications are accepted, are able to appear during that place's business hours without losing your job, and have the financial means to pay any associated fees. FTFY
    – jalynn2
    Jan 19, 2017 at 18:30
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    @Skooba - 1) The voter ID laws are very specific about the type of ID they will accept. The state I live in did not routinely issue birth certificates to every baby until 20 years ago. You need to request it and pay a fee.. 2) The area I live in has no public transportation. 3) Employers are less restrictive about ID. They require Social Security cards, which are not acceptable for voter ID. 4) Not everyone has a job, so your nominal fee (coupled with the cost of public transportation if available) could be unaffordable.
    – jalynn2
    Jan 19, 2017 at 18:48
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    @Skooba most of the rural US, which is most of the US, has no public transportation.
    – phoog
    Jan 19, 2017 at 19:22
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    @Skooba I'm unaware of these laws being an issue in cities. Most of the coverage I've seen concerning disenfranchisement of poorer voters has covered the rural poor and their need to drive for hours to reach an office where they can get an ID.
    – phoog
    Jan 19, 2017 at 19:35
  • 4
    It's controversial in the UK too. A previous plan to introduce ID cards was abandoned. In their absence, there is no form of photo ID (e.g. driving licence, passport) that everyone has. Jan 20, 2017 at 12:54

8 Answers 8


There are many reasons that a voter ID requirement is controversial. This is just a list of some arguments or concerns regarding voter ID laws, there is no attempt to determine the reasonableness of any of them.

National Identification

Elections and identification are two issues that are generally dealt with by states, not the national government. States organize elections. States issue the normal forms of identification in the United States (either a driver's license or another identification).

There is a strain of American politics that has a strong fear of the national government. Consider that all Americans do have a national (non-photo) identification in the form of a social security card. This just contains the number we need to access our national social welfare and insurance programs, as well as being a secondary form of ID in many cases.

Social security is at the center of many conspiracy theories (for example, this or this). The idea of a national identification card strikes many of the same fears: an oppressive national government, intrusion into private lives, etc. Many people have reasonable concerns, far from the world of conspiracy theories.


Some people have privacy concerns related to an identification to vote. The idea of an anonymous vote is a part of the American system. A voter ID introduces the idea that voting behavior could be tied to this ID, which would be a significant intrusion into our supposedly-anonymous elections.

The Electronics Frontier Foundation published an article summarizing many concerns about elections and privacy. If you wished to know more, I recommend their article. According to their article, some Americans are shocked to discover that you can access voter registration lists as well as information about who voted when.

Voter Suppression

Some people are worried that voter ID requirements are either intended to prevent people from voting, or will have the effect of preventing people from voting. In the last 100 years, racial and economic biases in elections have been an important issue. Although African Americans were legally able to vote as early as 1870, in practice many states or cities had rampant discrimination. There were monetary requirements (which poor Black farmers couldn't afford to pay), literacy tests (which largely uneducated Black citizens couldn't pass), as well as physical violence and manipulation to deter Black voters. From these experiences, the idea of deterring a group from voting may invoke powerful feelings in many Americans.

One group that opposes voter ID requirements (including the national voter ID) is the American Civil Liberties Union. They are concerned, as are many, that these ID laws will lower voter turnout in general, but will disproportionately affect minorities (who are less likely to have identification).

Voter Fraud

Some people are concerned about the possibility of vote fraud, where somebody votes who shouldn't be able to. This is often tied to concerns about immigration, since it seems without an ID requirement immigrants (both legal and illegal) could vote in an American election, which they are not entitled to.

This view is espoused in many news articles (example).

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    Perhaps worth noting: Not every American has a Social Security card, or even a Social Security number - but the vast majority indeed do.
    – Iszi
    Jan 19, 2017 at 22:42
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    @Iszi it's also worth noting that the SSN scheme was carefully designed from the beginning not to be an identification scheme. The cards specifically state, or at least they used to, that they're not for identification. Obviously, efforts to prevent the use of SSNs in this way weren't particularly successful, but as identity theft becomes more of a problem the use of the SSN for unrelated purposes has in fact declined somewhat.
    – phoog
    Jan 20, 2017 at 15:37
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    @phoog: Wikipedia also notes the "Not For Identification" statement you refer to, and has an image of a sample card with that statement. However, it appears that has been removed - I just checked three separate cards, covering at least two revisions of the form (Form SSA-3000), and none of them have such a statement.
    – Iszi
    Jan 26, 2017 at 21:37
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    Normally a Social Security Card would not be used for voter ID. Sometimes a birth certificate plus a driver's license (to prove citizenship plus identity), or a naturalization certificate and a driver's license, or a passport would be used. Perhaps 5% of potential voters lack a driver's license, state ID or passport.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 12, 2017 at 23:01
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    @Readin That is untrue. Many Republicans are also worried about voter suppression, privacy, and voter fraud - they are in no way Democrat owned issues. At least in my area, Republicans are largely against the national ID because of my first point. Dec 13, 2017 at 13:12

The controversy isn't about the laws themselves. The heart of the matter is partisan concerns and attacking the 'intentions' of those on the other side.

The leading arguments for ID's come from the Republican party, with the belief that ID's would ensure the veracity of claims at the voting both and elsewhere. The concept of people fraudulently voting, subverting the Rule of Law and the established processes of these United States, is unsettling. The ugliest side of the argument claims that Democrats want as many fraudulent voters as possible, ensuring they win future elections.

The leading arguments against ID's come from the Democratic party, with the belief that ID's places an undue burden on the poor, those born as US citizens without documentation, and is an echo of the Poll taxes from Jim Crow. The concept of disenfranchising people, violating their natural rights, is unsettling. The ugliest side of this argument claims that Republicans hate people that aren't white, so if they can invalidate as many of their votes as possible, it will ensure Republican victory.

An external argument from those of the Libertarian mind, whether left or right on the ideological spectrum, see the continued use of ID's as detrimental to rights overall. If the government can force you to present your 'papers,' in a Nazi-esque fashion, they can curtail your freedom to move freely about the country.

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    With respect to freedom of movement, this argument depends on the assumption that a requirement to present ID at the poll site will evolve into checking IDs elsewhere. That assumption is perhaps a matter of debate, but it certainly strikes me as unlikely. For example, most of the US has had picture driver's licenses for decades, but the police still cannot stop me and demand that I show my driver's license or any other ID papers in a "Nazi-esque fashion."
    – phoog
    Jan 19, 2017 at 19:28
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    @phoog I make know judgments about the veracity of the argument, just that it exists and causes controversy. Jan 19, 2017 at 20:45
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    This answer is pointing out the controversial arguments...not whether or not they are valid arguments. +1
    – user1530
    Jan 20, 2017 at 8:25
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    Re "belief" (to signify commonplace historic facts): that seems like a dodge to avoid comparing the relative weights of those facts. (i.e. beliefs can be incommensurable, but facts needn't be.)
    – agc
    Jan 21, 2017 at 17:38
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    @phoog:Re: but the police still cannot stop me and demand that I show my driver's license or any other ID papers Many US states have "Stop and Identify" laws: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_and_identify_statutes
    – Flydog57
    Jun 5, 2018 at 21:06

Your confusion is probably because the problem is not as straight-forward as it seems.

  1. "Requiring an ID" - This was never about requiring an ID. This is about requiring a very narrow group of photographic IDs, only. Need a government issued photo ID? What if you don't have one, but have all the documentation needed to obtain one? Not good enough. So that's good enough to get the photo ID, but not to substitute as one.

    In many municipalities you used be allowed to supply a lesser form of photographic ID, along with other documentation, in combination. That's not accepted under these laws.

  2. Which IDs are OK? Driver's licence is fine. Passport is fine. Not everyone can easily get these, or there is a cost associated with them.

    College student IDs (tend to be more liberal in voting habits) - no good in many states. Gun permit? Good. A VA card, used to collect federal veteran benefits? Not accepted under many of the laws. Clearly, it's not just about having "a form of ID" or even "a form of photo ID."

  3. Everyone should have one, right? Claims that you have to have one to collect benefits or open a financial account are meaningless. I can open financial accounts online, without supplying a photo ID. Many of the elderly may have had some of the IDs at one time, but no longer do (no longer drive, for instance), and established their benefits and financial accounts decades ago, and have been voting non-stop ever since. Many of the elderly also no longer can get out and about like they used to be able to. Others, like members of religious orders, do not have those kinds of accounts, or drive, but, as citizens, should be able to vote.

  4. It's easy to get, right? There are many groups of people who can't easily get a government issued ID. Access to locations, especially in more rural areas, the need to have transportation to get to them, the ability of hourly minimum-wage workers to take time off when they don't have scheduling flexibility or paid time off, etc etc etc. It doesn't matter if you deem it a minor inconvenience, or if it's a brick wall. ANY requirement that creates a burden that falls specifically on a particular group or groups is going to have a skewed impact on elections.

    When Mississippi first instituted their voter ID requirements, you needed a birth certificate to get a valid, accepted photo ID. If you didn't have a birth certificate? No problem..... if you have the photo ID required to get one. Oops.

    State Facing Voter ID Hurdles

    Many poor, older, rural citizens were not born in hospitals and were never issued a birth certificate. There was another case of a man in Wisconsin where there was a clerical error on his certificate (born in another state), so he could not get a photo ID, and the hurdles to getting valid documentation were enormously expensive and cumbersome.

    Bill Moyers - Black man in Wisconsin brought three forms of ID to the polls and couldn't vote

  5. What's the history in the USA regarding obstacles to voting? In the days of institutionalized racism via Jim Crow and other laws, there were poll taxes or fees to vote, which blocked the poorest from voting, and arbitrarily administered "literacy" or civics tests where a white voter might, say, get asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and a black voter might get asked to name the Massachusetts delegates who signed the US Constitution.

    Today, those more likely to not have these forms of voter IDs, or have difficulty getting them come from demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Coincidence?

    Those kinds of measures were deemed illegal obstacles, meant to prevent people from exercising their rights. If you require someone who was never issued a birth certificate to have one, that is a process that can take months and can cost hundreds of dollars. That's a de-facto poll tax.

    Wikipedia article on US voter suppression, offered to illustrate the kinds of methods historically used

  6. It's needed to address voter fraud, right? - No, it's actually not. While there are various kinds of illegal voting, or voter fraud that happens, the kind that would be stopped by a photo ID - in-person voter impersonation of a legitimate voter by someone else happens almost never, at all. Voter fraud, because of it's one-by-one methodology, is almost impossible to tip any election unless there was a massive, coordinated effort of many, many, many people. That is not the case. Now, ELECTION fraud is a real threat, but that is not addressed by voter ID laws. In fact, voter suppression of legitimate voters would be considered election fraud, by most measures.

    This is a solution in search of a problem. In lawsuits challenging voter ID laws in many states, and definitely in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, supporters of those laws admitted, in court, that they could not find even a single instance of this kind of fraud.

    Ahead of trial, Pennsylvania admits there is no voter fraud problem

So, when you look at the fact that requiring a narrow subset of IDs that CAN BE more difficult for some demographic groups to get vs others, to address a problem that does not exist, what you have is a targeted attempt to make it harder for some groups to vote. It's 100% a voter suppression measure.

The argument that "hey, 99% of people should be able to get an ID" means that you are willingly disenfranchising 1% of the legitimate, legal voting population for something that happens a handful time out of hundreds of million votes cast. It does not make sense, if your goal is integrity.

The Truth About Voter Fraud - Brennan Center study on voter fraud

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    Speaking of PA, the House Republican Leader was dumb enough to get caught on camera saying that enacting a voter ID law would help Romney to win the state. youtube.com/watch?v=EuOT1bRYdK8
    – jalynn2
    Jan 19, 2017 at 21:12
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    On point 2: What does it take to get a gun permit compared to a college ID? How many background checks and validations are attached to the gun permit, compared to just enrolling at a college and being handed an ID? The two aren't apples to apples. Jan 19, 2017 at 21:15
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    @DrunkCynic green card holders can get concealed carry permits, but they can't vote, so a concealed carry permit is like a college ID in at least one respect: holding one doesn't prove eligibility to vote.
    – phoog
    Jan 20, 2017 at 15:54
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    @DrunkCynic - a quick Google search shows that in many states non-citizens can concealed carry. You are also making an irrelevant statement. Voter photo ID is irrelevant to eligibility to vote. It only establishes identity, so one form establishing that vs another means nothing. Eligibility is determined at the voter registration level. Photo ID only verifies identity. Jan 20, 2017 at 18:15
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    Many commenters seem to be arguing that the correct photo ID somehow implies citizenship. Voter ID laws don't use the ID to establish citizenship (Permanent residents can get REAL ID drivers licenses, military IDs and in some states gun permits). Photo IDs establish identity only (well, and so extent, the bearer's address).
    – Flydog57
    Jun 5, 2018 at 21:17

There are several other excellent answers here, but let me try to boil it down:

1. Voting is a constitutional right.

This is the central point, and one I didn't see mentioned in other answers. You can't compare it to needing ID to drive or board a plane, since those aren't guaranteed in the constitution:

15th Amendment (1870): The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

19th Amendment (1920): The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

24th Amendment (1964): The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

26th Amendment (1971): The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act adds additional specific provisions about what states can and cannot do with local voting laws and practice.

US courts have allowed some Voter ID laws, and struck down others as a violation of the constitution or of the voting rights act:

Lots of further detail that I won't get into here, including the distinction between "disparate impact" vs "disparate treatment" and the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that invalidated portions of the Voting Rights Act which led to a wave of new Voter ID laws, but understanding the importance of this issue from a constitutional basis is an important place to start.

2. Millions of US citizens don't have a government-issued ID.

Some estimates suggest that over three millions Americans don't have a government-issued photo ID:

The most common form of government-issued ID are driver's licenses and so the people who are most unlikely to drive, as it is, is elderly, the poor, people who live in big cities, like African-Americans, especially young people, too, especially if they attend college. They may not have need for a car at the moment.

And then people who are in rural areas. The other challenge for them is they are not near the Department of Motor Vehicles offices, etc., etc. where you would get these IDs.

Well, can't all these people just go get some ID? Some can, others cannot (from the same article above):

Many of them never had birth certificates to begin with, and if they did, they were incorrectly - their names were incorrectly put onto these documents. And if that's the case, then you're not going to get an ID. They will not accept discrepancies between your birth certificate and other forms of ID that you may have, like a Social Security card and those kinds of things.

Lots of other stories that emphasize the fact that getting ID is much more difficult if you are elderly, or poor, minority, or don't have reliable transportation.

Some state's laws do attempt to provide better methods for people who don't have them to get IDs, or provide ways for voters to cast "provisional" ballots if they can't obtain ID.

3. The US has a long ugly history of disenfranchisement and voter suppression

Read up on Jim Crow laws, including poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses.

Opponents argue that Voter ID laws (and other practices like voter roll purges, polling place indequalities, and DMV office closures) are a modern form of voter suppression.

So, is that a plausible argument? How would Voter ID laws disenfranchise certain groups of voters?

If the percentage of citizens without ID were evenly distributed throughout the population (when measured by party, by race, by age, by gender, or by income), then no, Voter ID laws would impact all those groups the same.

But is that the case? No.

So no, different groups are not equally impacted by Voter ID laws. Those in lower income brackets, minorities, and college students are three demographics that are disproportionately impacted, they also tend to vote disproportionately Democratic.

Is it coincidence, then, that more Republicans than Democrats tend to support restrictive Voter ID laws?

The statistics by themselves are no smoking gun, of course. But some Republicans have been a little less circumspect about deliberately attempting to tip the scales:

Representative Glenn Grothman, Republican of Wisconsin, predicted in a television interview that the state’s photo ID law would weaken the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the state in November’s election...

In Florida, both the state’s former Republican Party chairman, Jim Greer, and its former Republican governor, Charlie Crist, told The Palm Beach Post in 2012 that the state’s voter ID law was devised to suppress Democratic votes.

From the same article, a staffer relays what happened during a Wisconsin Republican caucus meeting:

"I was in the closed Senate Republican Caucus when the final round of multiple Voter ID bills were being discussed. A handful of the GOP Senators were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters. Think about that for a minute. Elected officials planning and happy to help deny a fellow American’s constitutional right to vote in order to increase their own chances to hang onto power."

4. Are more restrictive Voter ID laws necessary to ensure the integrity of elections?

To be clear, this isn't just about whether some form of identification should be required to vote, this is about efforts to narrow the types of IDs that are acceptable. This page has a good timeline of voter ID laws in the US, this chart is a nice summary:

Voter ID Enactments 2000-2016

I'm not going to through the differences between all these categories (they vary widely by state anyway), but it is worth discussing the two least restrictive ones:

  • No ID Required: The voter is still typically required to find their name in the pre-printed registry and sign, under penalty of perjury, that they are who they say they are.
  • Non-strict, non-photo: If the voter doesn't have picture ID, they can show a utility bill with their name and address, or perhaps a voting reminder card send from the state.

It is worth stopping here and asking the question: are these measures sufficient? Have there been vast number of people swearing, under penalty of perjury, that they are someone else? Do people routinely print fake utility bills on their home computer just so they can go vote more than once?

Overwhelmingly, the research says no, in-person voter impersonation is almost non-existent. This 2012 report found a whopping 10 cases of in-person voter impersonation since 2000.

But that's 10 more cases than there should be, right???

Perhaps, but should we disenfranchise millions of voters all to prevent these 10 cases?

That's why Voter ID laws are controversial.

  • 3
    " in-person voter impersonation is almost non-existent. " This reminds me of Justic Scalia's famous statement, "It should be noted at the outset that the dissent does not discuss a single case -- not one -- in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit." Once someone is executed investigations usually stop, so of course they weren't finding evidence to exonerate the already convicted. Similarly, we don't find voter fraud when we refuse to look for it. How do we know there is no fraud when we are denied the tools we need to have in order to recognize it?
    – Readin
    Dec 13, 2017 at 6:49
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    @Readin So to some degree I acknowledge your point, that, by definition, we don't know all the times someone got away with it, but notwithstanding the baseless claims of our current president, in-person voter fraud isn't even seriously suspected in any large numbers. This comprehensive investigation only found 31 suspected cases out a billion votes cast, even in states that had stricter voter ID laws.
    – BradC
    Dec 13, 2017 at 14:16
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    @Readin and furthermore, you still have to weigh it against the cost - how many legitimate voters don't have the money, time, or enough other documentation to get their approved ID. Again, by any reasonable estimate: far, far more than any suspected fraud.
    – BradC
    Dec 13, 2017 at 14:52
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    @Readin The original question is, basically, "voter ID laws sound like common sense, what am I missing?" for which I've attempted to describe the practical, historical, racial, political, and statistical reasons why it isn't quite that simple. You don't have to agree, of course, but I think I've answered the question as posed.
    – BradC
    Dec 18, 2017 at 14:28
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    I've downvoted this answer due to the most recent edit. If states can require an ID for individuals to exercise their rights as protected by the second amendment and 10th amendment, why not the right to vote? Arguments grounded in the concept of disparate impact are contentiously approached. Jan 22, 2018 at 5:33

I hear that it is because obtaining an ID in the US in no simple matter, is it true?

What do you consider to be a simple matter? Getting an ID can require proof of citizenship, usually a birth certificate. Those who do not already have a copy of their birth certificate may have to pay a fee to get one. A price of $30 has been asserted.

Note that an ID is also required to start at a job (form I-9 to prove identity; the I-9 also requires either proof of citizenship or proof of work eligibility for non-citizens). Yet we rarely see complaints about that.

What are the historical and political reasons that make the topic so controversial?

Historically, Southern states used Jim Crow laws to prevent blacks from voting. In particular, they would create tests or fees which they would enforce more heavily on poor blacks than on whites. In reaction, almost all such requirements have been prohibited. It is generally illegal to charge a fee to vote.

Voter ID laws disproportionately restrict urban voters, who are much less likely to own a car and have a driver's license. Urban voters are also more likely to be black. Restrictions that have disproportionate impact on blacks create echoes of the Jim Crow laws.

The net result is that right wingers view ID as a perfectly reasonable requirement and think that it is silly not to require it. But blacks (who almost universally vote for left wing candidates) feel like such requirements target them—with some historical justification.

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    an ID is also required to start at a job (form I-9 to prove citizenship) -> According to the Wikipedia page you can also use other documents. For example, a School I.D. + Social Security Card should also be fine for the proposes of the I-9 form.
    – user11249
    Jan 20, 2017 at 2:53
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    Not a bad answer but has technical errors. An ID is not required to get a job. In general, there are more urban voters, but ID laws also greatly affect rural poor as well
    – user1530
    Jan 20, 2017 at 8:19
  • @Cerpetsmoker in particular the I-9 form doesn't require proof of citizenship; it is for verification of employment eligibility. Being a US citizen is only one way of being eligible for employment, and of course the other routes to eligibility do not carry with them the right to vote.
    – phoog
    Jan 20, 2017 at 15:58
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    Brythan: driver's licenses also do not require proof of citizenship. The only IDs that require proof of US citizenship are passports (including passport cards) and enhanced DLs (which can substitute for US passports when crossing the land border).
    – phoog
    Jan 20, 2017 at 16:02
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    RMVs as registration bodies makes sense only for spead-out areas where cars are common (and feasible). Surely car drivers would be appalled if they were required to register for voter IDs in subway stations.
    – agc
    Jan 21, 2017 at 17:57

Capsule version, (see longer answers for more detail):

At present, US voter IDs are issued on a voluntary "pull" basis, (the prospective ID-less voter must somehow satisfy a local gauntlet of one or many bureaucrats, some of whom might be politically appointed, underfunded, or understaffed), the fallibility of which makes such IDs an excellent means of voter suppression... which, it is widely believed, consequently helped elect many unpopular office-holders.

Contrast such a system to a "push" system of IDs, (something an eligable citizen cannot avoid, as with draft registrations, taxation, censuses, etc.), in which various adequately funded public servants would seek and provide all eligible voters with a voter ID. (A "push" system does not exist in the US.)


You're right and your expression of surprise at our laxness in this regard is common among Europeans, in that almost the entire developed world requires voter ID, as John Fund found:

Almost all industrialized democracies — and most that are not — require voters to prove their identity before voting.

The vast majority of countries require voter ID — usually photo ID — to prevent fraud and duplicate votes at the polls. Our neighbors do. Canada requires voter ID. Mexico’s “Credencial para Votar” has a hologram, a photo, and other information embedded in it, and it is impossible to effectively tamper with. Confidence in the integrity of elections has soared since its introduction in the 1990s. At a 2012 conference in Washington at which election officials from more than 60 countries met to observe the U.S. presidential election, most were astonished that so many U.S. states don’t require voter ID.

Are IDs hard to get? The CONTROVERSY

The controversy is that Democrats believe that Voter IDs depress or suppress the black vote and harkens back to real suppression of the black vote under Jim Crowe laws. The below is Barack Obama in his last press conference of his presidency (a few days ago)

OBAMA: We are the only country in the advanced world that makes it harder to vote rather than easier (Ed note: an obvious lie and rank demagoguery given the analysis by Fund). And that dates back. There’s an ugly history to that that we should not be shy about talking about. QUESTION: Voting rights? OBAMA: Yes, I’m talking about voting rights. The reason that we are the only country among advanced democracies that makes it harder to vote is — it traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery and it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. And that’s not who we are. That shouldn’t be who we are. That’s not when America works best. So I hope that people pay a lot of attention to making sure that everybody has a chance to vote. Make it easier, not harder.

The other side of the controversy: IDs are not hard to get, and that fraud is real:

Is it hard to get an ID? Not really. While I readily acknowledge that this video isn't statistically based (I will examine these in more detail below), it gives you a sense of the arguments through man on the street interviews, and it really is a good recap of what the controversy is about (note that the DMV is where US citizens get drivers licenses the most readily form of ID):


Is voting fraud real? Yes

A new voter fraud case before the Minnesota Supreme Court claims 1,366 ineligible felons have cast at least 1,670 fraudulent votes in recent statewide elections, possibly tipping the outcome of close contests, including the 2008 U.S. Senate race.

The cast against voter fraud is usually that it is not statistically significant. Tied to this is a whole cannon of argument on prosecution of these crimes, or lack thereof, the cleanup of voter roles, or lack thereof. Voting fraud is a very broad topic for exploration.

Do voter IDs suppress black turnout? Mixed. The problem is that most voter ID laws were passed right when Obama was running, putting them to the test for the first time. So you had two effects going on. Note that the Obama effect won the battle and this is even after Obama getting numerous African Americans to the polls for the first time in 2008:

The Census reports that in these states, black voter rates in the 2012 elections were just as high if not higher than white voter rates: Missouri: Black voter turnout higher by more than 6.0 percent* Tennessee: Black voter turnout higher by more than 6.0 percent Georgia: Black voter turnout higher by 0 to 5.9 percent Indiana: Black voter turnout higher by 0 to 5.9 percent Virginia: Black voter turnout higher by 0 to 5.9 percent* Arkansas: Voter turnout not statistically different* Kansas: Voter turnout not statistically different Texas: Voter turnout not statistically different*

Studies that indicate that IDs suppress votes or don't

One last point. Most critics of voter Id laws point out most fraud is committed by absentee ballots.


Because currently the system is easy for the entrenched powers to manipulate local election results. As a result any support that either side would have that would actually lead to curbing abuse of the voting system is going to be controversial.

By itself voter ID laws will not do much of anything to curb the voter fraud that is going on. But what it would do is make it possible to start tracking and documenting the actual amount of voter fraud that is going on. The entrenched parties do not want that because they have systems in place to manipulate the results.

Any belief that the government is by the people and for the people in the US anymore is naive at best. We have a government by the special interests and elite, for the special interests and elite.

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    This is a conspiracy theory rant.
    – user1530
    Jan 20, 2017 at 8:21
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    If its just a conspiracy theory then why did hilary out perform bernie in several Dem machine areas that were polling pretty significantly in bernie's favor? Jan 25, 2017 at 15:31
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    Why did trump win when he was losing every poll? Because polls aren't accurate indicators of actual votes.
    – user1530
    Jan 25, 2017 at 19:23
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    Your claim is that elections results are manipulated and you have zero data besides polls. If polls are your data, than a lot of elections these days (including Trump) should be null and voided. But of course, that's silly, because polls are no proof of anything other than what some opinions of some random people are.
    – user1530
    Jan 25, 2017 at 21:44
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    uhh...so, again, no real data...
    – user1530
    Jan 25, 2017 at 22:37

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