7

When one votes in the UK, all that is asked of you at the polling station is your name and address, which is then checked against a list to ensure that you are registered and eligible to vote. There is no other check in place to make sure you are who you say you are - you don’t need to bring any identification or other documents such as your polling card - for the moment at least, as trials of an identification requirement took place last election, to mixed success.

Despite these seemingly lax circumstances, occurrences of voter fraud are very low; usually in single digits over an entire election.

Is this arrangement unusual? Are identity documents or proof of voter registration usually required to vote in other counties? Are there any other countries where checks on the day are similarly, or even more, relaxed?

  • 2
    The UK is unusual in not issuing state mandatory ID cards .. – pjc50 Nov 21 '19 at 21:42
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    I suppose our version of an ID card is the National Insurance number - you need this to register to vote in the first place. – CDJB Nov 21 '19 at 21:45
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    I don't require ID to vote in New Zealand, nor do we have a national identity card. Also, the Electoral Commission is extremely persistent at getting people registered to vote. – Rupert Morrish Nov 21 '19 at 22:00
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    @cdjb not true, it's just a convenient shortcut: theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/16/… – pjc50 Nov 21 '19 at 22:27
  • Interesting, I was sure I needed it last time! – CDJB Nov 21 '19 at 22:28
5

It's somewhat unusual but certainly not unique. Wikipedia maintains a list of examples on voter identification laws. I'll quote a bit from that. I'll not cite those that require ID because most do. I will cite some exceptions, and as you can see the rules vary a lot on a case by case basis.

Countries not requiring some form of physical ID or specific election-related documents

Australia

No form of ID is required to cast a ballot at an election; instead, voters are asked three questions before being issued a ballot, so that they can be checked off the electoral roll: (1) what is your full name; (2) where do you live; and (3) have you voted before in this election?

Switzerland

In Swiss cantons (i.e. the subnational political level in Switzerland) that still use the Landsgemeinde or cantonal assembly; Historically, or in Appenzell until the admission of women, the only proof of citizenship necessary for men to enter the voting area was to show their ceremonial sword or Swiss military sidearm (bayonet); this gave proof that you were a freeman allowed to bear arms and to vote. Women, and men who choose to do so, may show their voting card instead.

The United Kingdom

There is currently no requirement to have identification to vote in elections in England, Scotland and Wales, before any election all eligible voters are sent a Poll card by their local authority although it is not a requirement to be in possession of a Poll card to vote

Some states in the United States, according to a different Wikipedia page:

No ID required to vote at ballot box: California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C.

ID not (strictly) required, but some specific election-related documents are

Germany

Germany uses a community-based resident registration system. Everyone eligible to vote receives a personal polling notification by mail, some weeks before the election. The notification indicates the voter's precinct polling station. Voters must present their polling notification and if asked a piece of photo ID (identity card (compulsory in Germany), passport, form of identification). As a rule identification is not required other than by the polling notification. If the voter cannot present the notification, a valid ID and an entry in the register of voters can qualify for voting.

Mexico

The INE elector's card is currently used in Mexico as the main mean of age and identity validation for legal, commercial and financial purposes, making this a vital document for all Mexicans over the age of 18, and consequently broadening the chance for more citizens participating on election day.

  • 1
    I live in Switzerland, it's true that no ID is required, but neither is a ceremonial sword nor a bayonet needed today. No, we do not have ceremonial voting arms anymore, LOL. You get a letter, make your crosses to your preferences, sign it, and send it back or bring it to the polling station. – alain Nov 22 '19 at 0:37
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    @alain I think having a weapon and pointing it at the person manning the ballot entitles you to vote worldwide ;-) – user19831 Nov 22 '19 at 11:05

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