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Voter ID Laws

As with so many things in today’s world, you may have to show some sort of ID when you go to the polls. In fact, 34 states request identification of some kind in order to vote. The most stringent of voter ID laws require a photo ID, but even without one a voter can still cast a provisional ballot – they still get to vote that day but must return anywhere from 3 three to 10 days with a valid photo ID in order for the ballot to count. Additionally, there are other ways around the photo requirement for voters who are unable to provide one.

A 2005 Indiana voter ID law required all in-person voters to show photo identification in order to vote. A person without a photo ID can cast a provisional ballot but must produce an ID within 10 days of the election. Voters without an ID can still vote if they sign an affidavit saying they can’t afford one or have a religious objection to obtaining one. The law was the first of its kind in the U.S., and its opponents took it to court. The lawsuit made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which upheld the law.

In recent years some states have made changes to some of their voting laws – things like shortening the early voting period, requiring a minimum residency period, reducing the list of valid forms of ID – and these efforts have also been met with lawsuits by advocacy groups. North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas, Kansas and others have seen their laws challenged in federal court, and some have had setbacks. None of the suits have been heard yet before the Supreme Court, and no precedent has been set.

These laws and lawsuits have proliferated in recent years because of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. It struck down one part of the ’60s-era Voting Rights Act requiring certain states and local governments to get federal permission before making any new voting law – as determined by a formula that attempted to select governments with a history of egregious attempts to restrict voting rights based on race. The Supreme Court deemed this part of the Act unconstitutional because the formula was outdated and had not been changed when the other provisions of the Act were renewed.

Utah too has voter ID laws. A photo ID is preferred but not required, meaning a person without photo ID can instead provide two other forms that confirm the name and address of the voter. Acceptable forms of ID include:

1. A currently valid Utah driver’s license;
2. A currently valid ID card issued by the state or a branch, department or agency of the United States;
3. A currently valid Utah permit to carry a concealed weapon;
4. A currently valid United States passport; or
5. A valid tribal ID card, whether or not the card includes a photograph of the voter.

Or

Two forms of identification that bear the name of the voter and provide evidence that the voter resides in the voting precinct. They may include:
1. A current utility bill, or copy thereof, dated within 90 days before the election;
2. A bank or other financial account statement, or legible copy thereof;
3. A certified birth certificate;
4. A valid Social Security card;
5. A check issued by the state or federal government or legible copy thereof;
6. A paycheck from the voter’s employer, or legible copy thereof;
7. A currently valid Utah hunting or fishing license;
8. A currently valid U.S. military ID card;
9. Certified naturalization documents (NOT a green card);
10. A certified copy of court records showing the voter’s adoption or name change;
11. A Bureau of Indian Affairs card;
12. A tribal treaty card;
13. A valid Medicaid or Medicare or Electronic Benefits Transfer card;
14. A currently valid ID card issued by a local government within the state;
15. A currently valid ID card issued by an employer;
16. A currently valid ID card issued by a college, university, technical school or professional school within the state; or
17. A current Utah vehicle registration.

And the above list isn’t exhaustive. If the voter lacks a photo ID, Utah law simply requires two documents that establish the name and address of the voter. Utah also provides an early voting period, vote by mail, and in some counties same-day voter registration.

These provisions have mostly kept Utah’s voter laws away from the lawsuits that have plagued other states’ laws. The state seems to have found the right mix of protecting the ballot through voter identification and making the voting process as easy and accessible as it’s ever been.

Dig Deeper

Scotus Blog: Crawford v Marion County

Utah.gov: Utah Election Day Requirements

Heritage Institute: Georgia’s Voter ID Lawsuit Seven Years Later

Utah Public Radio: Voter ID Laws: Where Utah Stands

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