Are there any other democracies that don't require voter ID?

With the voter ID debate in America, I’m curious whether any other democracies allow voters to vote without ID.

Whether voter ID is easy to obtain in America or not is beside the point - I’m just asking whether any other nations allow voters to vote without ID.

Most of the UK.

In Germany it’s usually not required. I have been an volunteer election official (Wahlvorstandsmitglied) in European, federal, state and local elections in Lower Saxony and in Baden-Württemberg, and the election officials in the polling station have discretion on how the voters identify themselves.

  • In some cases we know the voters (as the polling districts usually have ~ 200-1500 voters on the list, and election officials often live in their district or not far from it)
  • mostly the voters identify themselves with the postcard (Wahlbenachrichtigungskarte) they got as their notification of where to vote - that’s handy as it’s easiest to find their line in the voter list to strike off that way. Very, very occasionally we did probe a bit conversationally when the voter’s appearance seemed off from the DOB on the list.
  • if they have mislaid that postcard they usually show their ID card
  • very occasionally we accept that a voter who was identified themself vouches for the voter who has no kind of ID

I have never, in three decades, have a case where a voter showed up and his entry in the voter list had been already checked off because someone else had impersonated him.

That discretion on the part of the election officials is for an abundance of convenience only, though. If election laws were changed to require everyone showing their ID card that would not be as controversial as it’s apparently in the US because having an ID card is mandatory and getting/renewing it is not onerous - it’s perhaps an hour between getting one’s photo taken, walking to town hall, applying and back. Add another half hour for collecting the finished card 2-3 weeks later. Having an ID card is not a class marker of not being poor in Germany.

You do have to be registered though and many people, especially the more transient, students, & etc, don’t. This can be partly from simply thinking that it isn’t important, after all only 66% actually vote anyway; partly from a wish to stay off any guvmint database, and partly from simply not understanding the system.

At one election, my student daughter could have voted twice; once where she was staying in college, and then, since she came home that day, at home. In fact she did neither.

In Holland you get an invitation to vote through the mail. (All people are required to have their address registered with the city they live in.) It used to be that presenting that was sufficient, although it always said “the chair person of the polling station is authorized to require you to identify yourself”. But ten years ago or so they started requiring ID routinely.

It used to be that the only place you needed a passport is when crossing the border and pretty much nowhere else. Now in the Schengen zone you don’t need show ID when crossing an internal border anymore (although you have to carry it anyway) but these days you have to show ID for pretty much everything else… How is that an improvement?

BTW, you get your driver’s license, national ID card or passport from the city, although they’re manufactured in a central place. The driver’s license is good as ID for almost everything but not good for international travel. The national ID card is good for all kinds of ID purposes and travel within the EU (not just Schengen) and a handful of other places.

From age 14 you are required to have ID and present it in certain situations, although you can round that up to “whenever a police officer asks you to”, i.e., you have to always carry it or you can be fined. Of course they never check whether a card or passport was reported lost so all of this is completely meaningless.

I’ve never required ID in Australia. Here voter registration is compulsory, as well as voting, but as long as you know your name and address, there’s no problem in voting. (And that’s probably because there are very few cases of people voting for someone else.)

New Zealand doesn’t appear to. Nor does Australia, at least in federal elections. The Canadian province of Manitoba seems to only require ID for voting in provincial elections if you’re not registered.

Electoral fraud is a problem in the UK:

You must be registered to vote and you’re ONLY allowed to vote at the polling station you are designated to vote.
To vote somewhere else, if you moved house, you need to apply to vote there or travel “home” to vote.

Same in valid in Ireland.

Yeah, but that’s true in places which require voter ID too. It’s just the smaller scale version of being able to choose your country’s president but not those of other countries.

No ID required in Japan.

Japan requires citizens and residents to register their current address (Juminhyo). It’s not specifically a voter registration, but voter rolls are generated from this registration. Eligible voters get a ticket in the mail, and that’s all you need to take to the polling place. You don’t need to show any ID. If you lose that ticket, you can show an ID to vote.

ID is required in South Africa. And only the official ID book/card (we’re transitioning), other photo ID will not do.

That’s also the way it works in Germany (well, except that the registration office isn’t called 住民票).

That article is about postal voting fraud. As far as I know, in-person voter fraud (which most voter ID laws are designed to prevent) is extremely rare.

In Canada (at least Alberta) as far as I know you must show either a voter information card (that you get in the mail if you have registered to vote, which is done at the same time as filing your income taxes), or proof of your identity and address (which is present on your Driver’s License, or you can use something like a utility bill and a bank statement with your name and address on it, as well another non-photo id with your name on it). In a rare circumstance when you have none of that, you can swear an attestation of living in the voting district, and must have a properly identified voter vouch for you (and they may only vouch for one person). I do believe there is a process by which homeless people are able to get a voter identification card, but they have to be able to say that they go to a specific shelter or food bank to receive it, iirc.

It’s not in the US for the most part either, and your bit about the “it’s perhaps an hour between getting one’s photo taken, walking to town hall, applying and back. Add another half hour for collecting the finished card 2-3 weeks later.” is much the same in most of the US as well- maybe you have to go a little bit farther, depending on how your state does drivers’ licenses. In mine (Texas), you have to renew it every 6 years at a cost of $25, and every other renewal requires an in-person visit to the DMV for a new picture- it’s maybe an hour in total.

So not nearly as onerous as the anti-voter ID crowd would make out; a minuscule fee, an almost non-existent time committment, and you have an ID or driver’s license. Seems like an extraordinarily low hurdle to jump to be able to vote. Plus, you can register to vote right there at the DMV.

I suspect that the anti-voter ID crowd would object to the German requirements as being too onerous as well.

Are you talking about the hypothetical case, i.e. if Germany were to require their ID to vote? Even then, that is a very different situation; Germans are required by law to possess an ID card. There is no such law in the US.

The two big differences between the US and Germany are that the latter is much, much smaller and having access to transportation isn’t nearly as critical. What Mops described is correct, for the majority of Germans the place where photo IDs are issued as well as the polling stations are within walking distance (perhaps not always the case in rural areas).

Not to derail this thread, but the anti-voter ID crowd recognizes that getting the photo ID in many locations now requires presenting your birth certificate (and if the name on your birth certificate doesn’t match your current name, documentation of all intervening changes, such as marriage licenses and divorce papers). None of those other documents can be obtained at the same location as the photo ID, and they usually require additional fees, sometimes substantial. Also, if you don’t already have photo ID, in many states you will have to jump through multiple steps (all time-consuming and most expensive) obtaining those documents necessary to obtain the photo ID. Further, in my state there is at least one entire county that doesn’t have any location at which to obtain a photo ID, so if you are homebound or lack ready access to a vehicle, just getting to the ID agency poses difficulty. I suspect Germany does not have any towns that are 100+ miles from a town hall that can issue the ID; your state does.

That is correct. And if you don’t get your ID, you will be fined. This 82-year-old man from the Black Forest chose to go to jail rather than paying the 50 Euro fine for not possessing (actually for not providing a suitable picture) an ID card:

http://www.suedkurier.de/region/schwarzwald-baar-heuberg/st-georgen/Geldbusse-wegen-Personalausweis-8211-82-Jaehriger-geht-lieber-in-den-Knast;art410944,7667089