image of a computer key saying "vote"Over the past decade, legislation requiring voters to show identification documents at the polls has become a hot topic. Beginning with Georgia and Indiana in 2005, many states have enacted laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. Many others require at least a non-photo-bearing identification document, such as a utility bill, bank statement or paycheck. For details on these requirements, see Voter ID: State Requirements.
 
However, not all states have followed this lead. In 16 states and DC, voters can cast a ballot in person on Election Day without showing an ID document. These states have "non-documentary" ID requirements, meaning voters must verify their identity in other ways, such as by signing an affidavit or poll book, or by providing personal information. In addition, all states have procedures for challenging voter eligibility.

Below are details on the statutory requirements for voter verification in states with non-documentary ID requirements.
 

Voters' Responsibilities

The three main types of non-documentary ID requirements that voters may be asked to satisfy are:

  • Affidavit:  Some states, such as Iowa and Minnesota, ask voters to sign an affidavit asserting their eligibility to vote and/or awareness that falsely claiming eligibility is a criminal offense. Iowa includes the full text of its affidavit in statute. Other states provide partial texts or general guidelines.
  • Signature:  In other states, voters must provide elections officials with a signature before casting a ballot. In most cases, this involves signing a poll book or voter registration list at the polls but there are some exceptions. For example, Oregon voters must sign the return envelope included with their mail-in ballots.
  • Biographical information:  Voters may also be asked to provide personal information, either verbally or in writing, at the polls. In most cases, voters are asked to give their names and/or addresses. Maryland, New Mexico and (in certain circumstances) Minnesota, however, ask voters to provide full or partial birth dates.

These requirements are not mutually exclusive. Some states require voters to satisfy more than one. In New Mexico, voters must sign a signature roster and give their names and addresses both verbally and in writing. 
 

Election Officials' Responsibilities

In some states with non-documentary ID requirements, the evidence voters provide is verified by elections officials as a matter of course. Many states that require signatures or signed affidavits mandate that elections officials compare these signatures to the signatures on voters’ registration forms. Elections officials typically check voter- provided biographical information against voter records, registration lists or electronic poll books. In New York, officials also compare voters’ physical appearances to descriptions included in their voter records.
 

Voter Challenges

Like other states, states with non-documentary ID requirements permit citizen poll watchers and others to challenge voters' identity and/or eligibility to vote. States that require voters to provide their names at the polls often require elections officials verbally to repeat the names. This can help challengers identify individuals who are attempting to vote in another person's name or who are ineligible to vote.
 
Who can challenge a voter at the polls—and how—varies from state to state. Some states allow only elections officials or officially-appointed poll watchers to file challenges, while others permit all voters to do so. Commonly accepted grounds for challenge include failure to satisfy age, residency or registration requirements.
 

 
Statutory Requirements for States with Non-Documentary ID Requirements
State Voters must: Elections officials must:
California
(Cal. Election Code §14216 )
State name and address
Write name and address in poll book
Announce name and address
Confirm the voter is on the registration list

District of Columbia 

(D.C. Code Ann. §1-1001.07)

Sign the poll book

 

None

Illinois

(Ill. Rev. Stat. Ch. 10.5, §4-22, 5-29, 6-66, 17-9)

Sign an affidavit of eligibility
Provide name, and if requested, address
Announce name, and if requested, address
Confirm the voter is on the registration list
Maine
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 21A, §9-2-3-671)
State name, and if requested, address Announce name
Maryland
(Md. Election Code Ann. §10-310)
State month and date of birth (and address under certain circumstances) Check voter information against the registration list
Massachusetts
(Mass. Gen. Laws Ann., Title VIII, Chapter 54, §76)
Provide name, and if requested, address Announce name
Confirm the voter is on the registration list
Minnesota
(Minn. Stat. §204C.10 (a))
Sign an affidavit of eligibility
If requested, provide name, address and date of birth
Optional: check voter information
 
 
Nebraska
(Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-913)
Sign the poll book None
Nevada
(Nev. Rev. Stat. §293.277)
Sign the poll book Compare the signature to signature on file, or on a form of identification
New Jersey
(N.J. Rev. Stat. §19:15-17(a))
Provide signature
 
Compare the signature to signature on file
New Mexico
(N.M. Stat. Ann. §1-1-24, 1-12-7.1, 1-12-10, and 1-12-4.1)
State name and address
After providing identification (which can be a written or verbal confirmation of name, address and date of birth), sign the poll book
 
Note: the request for identification is suspended if lines are longer than 45 minutes
Announce name
Confirm the voter is on the registration list
New York
(N.Y. Election Law §8-304)
Sign the poll book Compare the signature to signature on file
Compare the voter’s physical appearance with information on record

North Carolina

(§ 163‑166.7)

State current name and residential address (and party affiliation in a primary election)

Sign the voting record, poll book, or voter authorization document
State whether the voter is registered to vote in that precinct
Oregon*
(Or. Rev. Stat. §254.470 (6) and (8-9))
Sign the envelope in which the ballot is returned Compare signature to signature on file
Pennsylvania
(Penn. Elect. Code §1.3.1210)
Sign an affidavit of eligibility
Provide address (except under certain circumstances)
Announce name
Compare signature against signature on file
Vermont
(Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit.17, §2563, 2571)
State name, and if requested, address
Alternatively, provide documentation
Confirm the voter is on the registration list
Wyoming**
(Administrative code)
State name and address None
*Oregon conducts its elections almost exclusively by mail but offers voters the option of voting in person at county election offices. Ballots in Oregon, including ballots cast in person, must be accompanied by a return envelope signed by the voter.
**Wyoming's ID requirement is not specified in statute.