Every voter should demonstrate that they are who they say they are before voting. That form of proof should not include restrictive documentation requirements like overly burdensome photo ID or redundant proof of citizenship requirements that serve to block millions of eligible American citizens from voting.
Improvements in voting technology and modernization of our voter registration system will both increase efficiency and close the door on mistakes and fraud. Where there are clear policy solutions that resolve concerns about both election integrity and free and fair access to the polls, American citizens should not be subject to costly restrictive documentation requirements that limit access to the polls.
Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students. Many citizens find it hard to get government photo IDs, because the underlying documentation like birth certificates (the ID one needs to get ID) is often difficult or expensive to come by. At the same time, voter ID policies are far more costly to implement than many assume.
The Brennan Center conducts research on voter ID, proof of citizenship, and in-person voter fraud. Brennan Center attorneys also assist policymakers and advocates seeking to oppose unnecessarily restrictive ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements and improve the security of elections without compromising American citizens’ right to vote.
Our research, publications, and other work on voter ID include:
- A detailed summary of voter ID laws passed since the beginning of 2011.
- Letters to the Department of Justice regarding some of the most restrictive new laws passed in 2011, urging that the Department deny the laws "preclearance" under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
- Congressional responses and actions related to the recent wave of voter ID legislation and other suppressive legislation.
- Voting Law Changes in 2012, our full report on the new restrictive voting laws passed or proposed in 2011, including new photo ID requirements.
- A summary of voting laws passed or pending since the beginning of 2011. See the full appendix.
- Comprehensive roundup of research and publications on voter ID.
- Responses to unsubstantiated allegations of fraud that have misinformed the push for ID laws.
- A survey to determine the extent to which American citizens possess government-issued photo ID and documentary proof of citizenship. Wereported that 11 percent of voting-age American citizens—and an even greater percentage of African American, low-income, and older citizens—do not have current and valid government-issued photo IDs. These findings have been confirmed by multiple independent studies.