The NCSL Blog


By Saige Draeger

Few topics are more perennial in the elections sphere than voter identification.

Canvass logoWhile the concept itself is not new, two NCSL resources on the topic are: the October Canvass and a webpage featuring voter ID chronology.

This month’s Canvass features a rundown of action on voter identification in the states, answering the questions, “Where have we been? Where are we going?”

We trace legislative activity dating back to 2000, when voter ID for in-person voting started gaining traction across the country. At that point, more than half of the states—36 in total—did not require voters to show identification. Today, that number is less than half, with 15 states verifying voter identity without ID documents. There are other notable changes, too. In 2000, no state had what we classify as “strict photo” ID requirements (more on that delineation here). Two decades later, seven states now fall into this category. Learn more about these changes over time by viewing NCSL's new voter ID chronology.

The point at which identification is requested is also changing. Traditionally, voter ID is furnished at the polling place during in-person voting. But as this month’s Canvass notes, policymakers are placing more and more attention on identification requirements for requesting and returning absentee/mail ballots, as voters increasingly cast ballots outside of the polling place.

While this may be NCSL's 15th voter ID resource-publication rodeo, it’s almost certainly not our last. Stay up to date by following NCSL’s voter ID resource pages or contacting us.

Also featured in this month’s Canvass is an interview with Delaware Senator Kyle Evans Gay (D). Elected in 2020, Senator Evans Gay discusses chairing the Senate Elections & Government Affairs Committee, the passage of automatic voter registration last session, and future election priorities in the state. Separately, we cover state action on ballot curing, and briefly outline proposals enacted during the 2020-2021 session.

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Saige Draeger is a policy associate in NCSL's Elections Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.