When Americans show up to the voting polls, more than likely, they will be asked to present identification. As simple as this request sounds, it isn’t always possible. There are a myriad of reasons why a legal registered voter might show up to the polls without a standard government-issued photo ID. Maybe the ID was left at home or maybe the voter did not have the financial resources to get one—after all, those things can cost $30 to $35 bucks. Regardless, in most cases, some form of ID is required to have your vote counted.
Presenting identification before casting a ballot might seem like a traditional rule, but it’s actually relatively new. Since the early 2000s states have been enforcing stricter voter identification requirements with each local and national election. When Georgia amended it’s 1997 voting rule, which allowed over 17 forms of ID (H.B. 244 Section 59), to a much shorter list that required picture identification, the state consequently narrowed its voting pool. Naturally voting rights activists were concerned.
Since these amendments have taken place, advocates have been working hard to ensure the newer laws don’t further disenfranchise the many Americans who lack easy access to standard picture IDs. Consider rural America, for instance. About 60 million Americans live in sparsely populated areas with no urban centers in close proximity, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For many of these residents, the trip to an ID office could be time consuming and financially draining—nearly impossible. But rural residents aren’t the only voters, who might struggle to obtain standard identification; senior citizens, people living with low-income, those experiencing homelessness, and those with physical disabilities are all at risk of having their votes disregarded because of issues with the ever evolving voter ID rules.
In order to combat possible identification barriers, state lawmakers have rolled out a series of additional voter ID legislation. The amendments range from allowing voters to use anything from a sworn affidavit to a food stamps card to prove that they are who they say they are. In many cases, actively registered voters who have casted ballots in the past don’t even have to show ID when voting. Additionally, some states allow older senior citizens to cast ballots with expired IDs and younger voters have been allowed to use school IDs.
When it comes to voting, the ID possibilities are many. Aside from the standard driver’s license, passport, state identification card, or government-issued ID, here’s a state-by-state rundown on other acceptable forms of identification to carry with you to the polls.