Topic:
ELECTIONS (GENERAL); IDENTIFICATION DEVICES; LEGISLATION; LEGISLATIVE INTENT; POLLING PLACES; VOTING;
Location:
VOTING;

OLR Research Report


May 2, 2008

 

2008-R-0301

VOTER IDENTIFICATION

By: Kristin Sullivan, Associate Analyst

You asked for (1) a summary of state laws requiring identification to register to vote or to vote and (2) a brief legislative history of the law requiring identification to vote.

SUMMARY

An applicant must present identification to an admitting official when registering to vote and show identification at the polling place before voting. A voter who has no ID but signs an affidavit attesting to his or her identity can vote. Voters who registered to vote by mail must include ID with their registration or show ID when voting for the first time.

In Connecticut, the General Assembly has passed three laws requiring voters to provide identification to register to vote or vote: An Act Concerning Voter Registration and Voting at Primaries and Elections (PA 81-350), An Act Concerning Voter Identification at the Polls (PA 93-300), and An Act Concerning General Budget and Revenue Implementation Provisions (PA 03-06, June Special Session). Public Act 81-350 establishes identification requirements for people applying in person to register to vote. Public Act 93-300 requires voters to present identification at the polls or alternatively, sign a statement attesting to their identity. Public Act 03-06, June Special Session establishes voter identification procedures, among other things, to comply with the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It creates enhanced identification requirements for certain people who apply to register to vote by mail and requires proof of identity when later appearing to vote at the polls or voting by absentee or presidential ballot.

IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENT FOR REGISTERING IN PERSON

Public Act 81-350 required people who apply in person for admission as electors to present a (1) birth certificate, (2) driver's license, or (3) Social Security card. The law, unchanged by the act, required applicants to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, attesting to their name age, residence, and eligibility to become an elector (CGS 9-20).

IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENT FOR REGISTERING BY MAIL

HAVA allows people who register by mail, beginning January 1, 2003, to submit supplemental identification exempting them from a requirement to show identification when they vote for the first time. Public Act 03-06, June Special Session, conforms to this provision for anyone registering to vote by mail. The law specifies the acceptable forms of identification that an applicant may include with a mail-in voter registration. They are (1) a copy of a current and valid photo identification, (2) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows the voter's name and address, (3) a valid Connecticut motor vehicle operator's license number, or (4) the last four digits of the individual's Social Security number. An applicant who includes such information may sign a statement attesting to his or her identity in lieu of producing identification when he or she votes for the first time (CGS 9-23r(a) and (b)).

If a person does not submit supplemental identification when registering, he or she must do so when voting in person in a federal election or submitting an absentee ballot. Specifically, he or she must present either (1) a current and valid photo ID or (2) a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows the person's name and address. A person who fails to produce the identification may cast a provisional ballot in person or his or her absentee ballot will be treated as a provisional ballot for federal offices only (CGS 9-23r(d) and (e)).

IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENT FOR VOTING

Public Act 93-300 (sHB 5994) required voters to present a form of identification when they go to the polls to vote or alternatively, sign a statement attesting to their identity. Under this law, acceptable forms of identification are (1) a Social Security card or (2) any preprinted identification card that has the voter's name and one of the following: his or her address, signature, or photograph. A voter signs the statement, which the secretary of the state prescribes, under penalty of false statement (CGS 9-261(a)).

During the House debate on June 2, 1993, Rep. Rapoport, House chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee (GAE), made the following statement when introducing the bill to the chamber:

What the bill says…is that when the voter comes, he or she must one, announce their address, if they have one, to the election officials, that is current law and secondly, present to the checkers a social security card or any other preprinted form of identification which shows the voter's name and either address or signature or photograph…. So, there will be a variety of IDs that will meet this requirement. It does not need to be a driver's license. We know that some people in the state do not have driver's licenses, other people do not have photographic ID. However, to insure that no voter who has the right to vote will be turned away from the polls, there is an alternate mechanism for the voter to identify themselves and that is the secretary of state will provide forms to the election officials and if a voter does not bring in any form of ID, whether it is because they don't have any or because they left it at home or for whatever reason, they can sign in and be allowed to vote and then that signature will serve as sort of a paper trail so to speak, if later on in the day, someone else comes and says, no, I haven't voted yet, I am that person.

Similarly, Senator DiBella, GAE Senate chair, made the following statement on June 7, 1993 when bringing out the bill:

What this bill does, it requires voters to present identification when they go the polls to vote or to sign a statement attesting to their identity. The bill lists specific forms of identification, a Social Security card, any preprinted identification card with a voter's name and one which would be following his address, signature or photograph. The voter has the right to sign under penalty of false statement, a form which would be prepared by the secretary of state's office.

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