Not everyone has the financial means to replace a lost or stolen identification card. People experiencing homelessness may additionally struggle with accessing other proofs of identification and residency required to obtain a new identification card. Not having any identification can mean denied access to benefits or services and, in some states, the loss of the ability to vote. While some states and the District only require identification during voter registration, others require a photo ID at the ballot box. North Dakota, Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia all require photo IDs on Election Day. Other states accept non-photographic proof of identification, such as a bank statement with a voter’s name and address. So what happens if a voter goes to the polls without an acceptable form of identification in their state?
In the states the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) calls “non-strict,” voters may sign an affidavit of their identity or the poll worker can vouch for them. Some states — Colorado, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont — allow voters to vote on a provisional ballot. After Election Day, officials will check the voter’s eligibility and registration to determine if the provisional ballot can be counted. In those states, the voter does not have to take any further action. In New Hampshire, election officials mail a letter to anyone who signed an affidavit. The voters must return the letter to prove they are at the residence they listed.
In states the NCSL calls “strict,” a voter may have to return to an election office a few days after the election to provide identification. If the voter does not return to the office with an acceptable form of ID, their vote will not count.
There are exceptions to voter identification legislation in some states. Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin all make exceptions for people who have religious objections to being photographed. South Carolina’s allows exceptions if a person has a “reasonable impediment” to getting an ID and Tennessee allows exceptions for people who are “indigent.”