Although Missouri has no photo identification requirement for voting, thousands of residents showed their driver’s licenses to get ballots this year. That could become the new norm because of technological advances that use of the bar codes embedded in driver’s licenses to check in people to vote. In roughly 20 states and about one-fifth of Missouri counties, local election officials this year used laptop computers or tablets to verify eligible voters. In many of those instances, prospective voters provided a driver’s license or voter registration card containing a bar code, which when scanned by poll workers automatically matched their identities against a computerized list of registered voters to determine if they were eligible to vote and in the correct precinct.
These so-called electronic poll books proved faster than traditional paper logs. As a result, numerous election officials are now considering adopting the technology for future elections.
Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat whose office provides grants for election technology improvements, described the electronic poll books as “super efficient” and “really terrific.”
The electronic devices also could add a new wrinkle to the political debate about photo voter identification requirements.
Seventeen states currently require voters to show a photo ID at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And at least 18 states besides Missouri made some use of electronic poll books during the 2012 elections, according to a survey by the National Association of Secretaries of State.