The Help America Vote Act says that if you are voting for the first time, you have to show identification if:
- You registered to vote online or by sending in a form by mail, and
- You did not provide identification with your voter registration form
This requirement is in addition to any state voter ID requirements.
What kinds of ID can you use?
The law says that you have to show:
- Current, valid photo identification, or
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or another government document that shows your name and address
The most common form of identification is a government ID with your name, address, and photo, such as:
- State driver’s license or learner’s permit
- State non-driver’s ID
- Other state-issued ID cards
- Tribal ID
- Military ID
Check with your local or state elections office for a complete list of types of identification you can use.
Vote Riders, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization has a list of the acceptable photo and nonphoto identification for first-time voters.
What happens if you are voting in person during early voting or on Election Day
If you need to show identification, the poll worker will ask you for it.
If you do not have ID, you can vote on a provisional ballot. Your ballot will be counted if you provide identification to the local elections office by the deadline - usually 7 days after the election.
What happens if you are voting by mail?
The rules vary by state, but you must usually provide a copy of your ID when you return your ballot.
Your absentee or mail ballot package should include instructions and a list of the types of ID your state accepts.
You can usually enter the number of your state driver’s license or non-drivers ID instead of making a copy because the elections office can look up your record to confirm your identity.
Not a first-time voter?
You can learn about voter identification requirements and what ID you can use at Vote Riders. Select your state from the map or drop-down list on their home page.