Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Do You Need to Show ID to Vote?

Some states require a photo ID before you can cast your ballot


spinner image Voters voting in polling place
Be prepared for the primary voting season and know what you need to bring to the polls.
Blend Images - Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

On election day, if you live in Maryland, you’ll need only to give your birth date to a poll worker and you’ll receive your ballot. But if you live in Colorado, you’ll have to show a picture ID to be allowed into the voting booth.

These are just two examples of the different voter identification rules in place throughout the United States, both for the primaries and the general election. In 34 states, citizens must show a form of identification. Some require a photo ID, while others will accept a document with the voter’s name and address, such as a utility bill or library card. In the other 16 states, requirements range from telling the election official your name and date of birth to signing a polling book.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

“It’s kind of a smorgasbord of laws out there,” says Dylan Lynch, a policy associate for elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). “Even states that have similar laws may accept different forms of ID.” You can find out what documentation your state requires at NCSL’s voter identification page.

If your state requires identification and you show up at the polls without an acceptable document, there is usually a procedure to allow you to vote. Some states will ask you to sign an affidavit affirming your identity. Others will let you cast what’s called a provisional ballot, but then you’ll have to bring an acceptable ID to the elections office within a specified period to have your vote counted.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?