When it comes time to vote you have to be registered, of course. In addition federal law (the “Help America Vote Act”) requires that voters show identification when they vote. This is confusing for some people because some states have passed laws that require an official photo ID as identification (federal law does not require a photo ID). As of the 2008 election season, 24 states have voter photo ID laws. If you have a driver’s license, military ID, passport or certain other types of photo ID, you’re all set. If not, these states will provide you with a voter ID card for voting purposes free of charge. Read on to learn how to get a voter ID card.
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Things you need
- Acceptable documents to prove your identity and citizenship
Find out which state agency issues identification cards. States that require photo IDs for voting normally issue them through the Department of Motor Vehicles (which may be called the Department of Drivers services or some other name) which issues driver’s licenses.
Get a list of acceptable photo IDs (all these states have lists of accepted photo IDs online) and see if you have one. If not, you will need to get a voter ID card.
Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles to find out how to apply for a photo ID for voting in your state. The important part is to get a list of the documents you will need. Normally these include your social security card, birth certificate or certificate of Naturalization, proof of residency in the state, and sometimes one or two additional items. The requirements vary from state. If you don’t have one of these documents don’t panic—each state has a list of alternate documents you can use.
Gather the documents you need to apply for a voter ID card. You can download the application in some states, but not in others.
Apply at a designated office to get a voter ID card. You will need to fill out the application form and apply in person so you can be photographed. Some states will issue the card on the spot, while others send it to you in the mail.
Tips and warnings
- The link below will take you to a list of states that do and do not require a photo ID to vote. However, this list is likely to change and you should check the rules in your state when you register to vote.
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