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A masked election worker sits behind a clear barrier as she performs ID checks of potential voters on Election Day in Ridgeland, Miss., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP) A masked election worker sits behind a clear barrier as she performs ID checks of potential voters on Election Day in Ridgeland, Miss., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP)

A masked election worker sits behind a clear barrier as she performs ID checks of potential voters on Election Day in Ridgeland, Miss., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP)

Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone June 13, 2022

Rules vary, but 35 states require some form of ID to vote

If Your Time is short

  • There are 35 states that require or request some form of ID to cast a ballot. These laws applied to about 6 in 10 voters in 2020.

  • The laws vary on how strictly they are applied and what forms of ID, photo or others, are accepted.

  • The states that don’t have ID requirements use other methods, such as matching signatures, to verify a voter’s identity.

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who served as U.N. ambassador under President Donald Trump, implied in a recent Facebook post that Americans have to show an ID in order to do dozens of routine things, but not to vote — an interesting claim since she signed a voter photo ID requirement into law in her home state over a decade ago.

"Things that make you go (thinking emoji)," reads a June 7 Facebook post by Haley. The post shared an image from Stand for America, an advocacy group she founded, that shows a lengthy list of activities that require presentation of an ID — including buying alcohol or cigarettes, getting married and boarding an airplane — and a list of what an ID is not required for, which just says "to vote."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Ken Farnaso, a spokesperson for Haley, said that while Haley obviously knows that voter ID laws exist, having signed one into law, she believes they should be used to safeguard every election.

"While we recognize that some states do have voter ID laws, the vast majority of Americans are not required to abide by strict voter ID laws," he said. "Strict voter ID is only required in 11 states, covering 18% of the U.S. population."

Haley’s post, shared and liked by more than 1,000 people, made no such recognition and included no caveats. 

Farnaso’s numbers are correct according to a definition of "strict" that means that people who show up without a voter ID are allowed only to cast a provisional ballot. But voter ID laws requiring some form of ID covered about 6 in 10 registered voters in the 2020 election.

Sean Morales-Doyle is acting director for voting rights and elections at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school. He said "voter ID" laws come in many forms, from a federal law that requires people registering to vote by mail for the first time to provide ID, to a variety of state laws with differing requirements.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 35 U.S. states have laws that require or request some form of identification to vote. Those laws applied to about 59% of registered voters in the 2020 election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The laws vary in terms of whether they are strictly applied and whether a photo ID, or other forms of documentation, are accepted.

Fifteen states, along with the District of Columbia, have no ID laws, but use other methods, such as matching signatures, to verify a voter’s identity. Two of those states, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, passed ID laws that have been struck down by courts. These states made up about 41% of registered voters in 2020.

RELATED: As extremes shape voter ID debate, the rules keep getting stricter

Because each state runs its own elections, ID laws vary, as do acceptable forms of identification.

Seven states — Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin — have what the NCSL labels "strict" photo ID laws, meaning those without one must vote on a provisional ballot and take later steps in order for their votes to count.

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Four states —  Arizona, North Dakota, Wyoming and Ohio — also have "strict" ID laws to vote, but a photo ID is not the only form accepted. Ohio, for instance, allows a utility bill or paycheck among acceptable forms of ID. All allow voters without an acceptable ID to cast provisional ballots.

The other states with ID laws fall into a category the NCSL calls "non-strict" states, meaning at least some voters can cast ballots even if they can’t provide the requested ID. South Carolina falls into this category. These state laws applied to nearly 40% of voters in 2020.

The Missouri Legislature, which has passed several voter ID laws that failed to withstand legal challenges, passed a new, strict law last month that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID to vote. It would allow a provisional ballot to be counted if the voter returned the same day with the ID or if election officials can verify their signature. Republican Gov. Mike Parsons said he plans to sign the bill, but had not as of June 9.

New Hampshire recently passed a bill awaiting Gov. Chris Sununu’s signature that would require voters who register at the polls to use a provisional ballot if they don’t provide identification

Haley’s post did not specify a form of voter ID, but she has long supported photo ID laws. In South Carolina, under a law she signed in 2011, voters are asked for a photo ID, but can vote on a provisional ballot and have it count as long as they show an ID to the county elections office before votes are certified. That law also provides residents with free photo IDs, but voters who can’t get one for reasons like religious objections or a disability can still cast a provisional ballot by "signing an affidavit stating you have a reasonable impediment" to obtaining a photo ID.

During the bill signing, Haley made an argument similar to the one in her Facebook post, saying, "If you can show a picture to buy Sudafed, if you can show a picture to get on an airplane, you should be able to show a picture to make sure that we do what is incredibly inherent in our freedoms and that is the ability to vote." 

In a 2015 speech at the National Press Club, Haley said, "Let's figure out ways to make it easy, and cost-free, for every eligible voter to obtain a photo ID." More recently, she promoted voter ID laws in 2021 on The Daily Signal podcast.

After the 2020 election, which former President Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans baselessly argued was fraudulent, Republican leaders in many states, such as Texas and Georgia, have worked to tighten ID laws, particularly when voting absentee.

Despite criticism by some Democrats and voting rights advocates that ID laws may inhibit minority voting, advocates told PolitiFact last fall that they do not oppose such laws if enough methods of ID are available to voters. And polls show wide support from voters for ID laws.

Our ruling

A Facebook post by Haley suggested that no ID is required to vote in America. While some states do not require voters to present ID to vote, most do.

At least 35 states have laws that request or require voters to present some form of ID to cast a ballot, including South Carolina’s photo ID law signed by Haley. These laws applied to about 6 in 10 voters in the 2020 election. Some are more strict, requiring a photo ID, but many accept other forms, such as a utility bill. The remaining states use other methods to verify a voter’s identity.

A spokesperson for Haley said she is aware such laws exist, but believes that voter ID laws should be used in every election. Her post suggested a total absence of voter ID laws; therefore, we rate this claim Mostly False.

RELATED: Trump says Democrats are trying to 'ban voter ID.' That’s misleading.

RELATED:  All fact checks for voter ID laws

Our Sources

Nikki Haley, Facebook post, on June 7

Ken Farnaso, spokesperson for Haley, email interview on June 9, 2022

Sean Morales-Doyle, acting director for voting rights and elections at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school, email interview on June 9, 2022

Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute, "52 U.S. Code § 21083 - Computerized statewide voter registration list requirements and requirements for voters who register by mail," accessed June 9, 2022

U.S. Census Bureau, "Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2020 (Table 4A)," accessed June 12, 2022

National Conference of State Legislatures, "Voter ID laws," Jan. 7, 2022

National Conference of State Legislatures, "Voter ID chronology," Sept. 29, 2021

South Carolina Election Commission, "Photo ID Requirements," accessed June 8, 2022

Voting Rights Lab, "State voting rights tracker," accessed June 8, 2022

Voting Rights Lab, "2021 NH S 418," accessed June 9, 2022

Ohio Secretary of State, "Identification requirements," accessed June 8, 2022

Missouri Independent, "Voter ID bill clears Missouri legislature despite fierce criticism from Black Democrats," May 12, 2022

Springfield News-Leader, "'Out of the way for now': Voter ID law gutted by Missouri Supreme Court," Jan. 18, 2020

Springfield News-Leader, "Gov. Mike Parson plans to sign photo ID bill, but has concerns about lawmakers' tax credit plan," May 19, 2022

Reuters, "South Carolina governor signs voter photo ID bill," May 18, 2011

The Daily Signal podcast, "Minorities ‘Perfectly Capable of Getting Photo ID,’ Nikki Haley Says of Election Laws," April 29, 2021

NHPR, "Provisional ballot bill heads to governor; could face constitutional challenge," May 12, 2022

 

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Rules vary, but 35 states require some form of ID to vote

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