Voter Identification Requirements: Background and Legal Issues [November 10, 2014] [open pdf - 343KB]
"More than half the states require a voter to provide a specified identification document (ID) to cast a ballot, and some of those states require photographic identification (photo ID). Seventeen states and the District of Columbia do not require any type of ID to vote, but a voter may be asked to provide certain information to verify what is contained in the registration record or otherwise confirm his or her identity, such as stating an address or birth date or providing a signature. Washington and Oregon conduct elections entirely by mail, although Washington provides for in-person voting on Election Day and photo ID is required. Identification requirements across the states vary in flexibility, in the type of documents allowed, in exceptions made to the requirements, and in the recourse available to a voter who cannot comply with the ID requirement at the polls. This report provides an overview of states that require a voter to provide some form of ID before casting a ballot. The report discusses the origins of voter ID, federal legislative action in the 113th Congress related to voter identification, and background and legal issues related to voter ID, particularly photo ID, laws in the states."
CRS Report for Congress, R42806