No ID needed to vote?

I’ve recently heard it claimed that as long as I’m not a first-time voter, I can vote without providing any ID.

Really? Then how the heck do the know that I am who I say I am?

do they know

sorry, should have previewed

Where I live, they compare your signature to a huge book of signatures taken from voter registration applications.

Eva Luna: What’s the reason for using a signature instead of ID? Some people do not have consistent signatures, and I can easily see someone being denied a vote because they didn’t sign at the polling station the same way they signed on their registration. This is especially dangerous because the decision on whether to accept the signature would be arbitrary and left to someone who might be biased.

Is there some reason why presenting ID is not acceptable? Perhaps because of privacy concerns? Do registered voters get some kind of card that proves who they are? (In Canadian federal elections registered voters get a printed card with their name and address that they can present, or you can register on election day with a piece of ID that has your name, photo and signature, such as a driver’s license, or one of those cards that takes away our freedom to choose who we want to buy health insurance from.)

In Australia you don’t need an ID to vote, you just need to idenitfy your name and your place of residence.

Until very recently, in Virginia, you would step up to the desk, and tell them your name. They would look up your name, then ask you for your address. As long as you gave them the proper address, you got to vote. Now, because of a 2002 change in the law, you have to show an ID - a drivers license, your registration card, something that shows who you are. It’s still surprisingly lax, however. The voter registration card, for example, has no photo, and would be a snap to counterfeit.

Just remember that the requirements are going to be different in every state, since voting is controlled by state law, not federal (subject to Constitutional protections, of course - no state can, for example, impose a poll tax).

So, I can walk in an Australian polling station, simply say “Hello, I’m LuckySevens, post 1, Election thread, in GQ” and I’ll be able to vote?

One safeguard that works better in some places than others is that the pollworkers are usually from the neighborhood. If clairobscur comes up to the desk and identifies himself as me, the woman checking the registration book, who lives across the street from me, will probably notice.

The bigger the precincts get, the less effective this becomes.

And I can’t say whether this situation also applies to Australia.

They issue Voter Identification Cards in Michigan that list your name, your address, your polling precinct, the location of polling, which districts you’re in, be it US congressional, State Senate and Representative, and School. They also have books at the polling locations that they double check to make sure you’re in the correct place. I can’t remember if the Card is mandatory, but I guess we have them for a reason.

I wasn’t asked for any ID this morning. I don’t know how it works for first-time voters, since I voted by absentee ballot in 2000.

Massachusetts, this morning. First table I was asked my street address, then my name. (I could have read the name upside down, I suppose.) I was not asked for any identification, nor did I recognize any of the poll workers. Before sliding my ballot into the scanner, my name was checked off again at a different table by the same process - address, then name.

In L.A. they looked us up in a book, and we presented a driver’s license for verification of identity.

Well, I’m not sure that address is in any Australian electorate – but, yes, you could.

I suspect it’s not a big problem in Australia, because of compulsory voting. After each election, they would take a master list of voters, and check who had voted at each polling place (you can vote at any polling place in your electorate), who had voted absentee, who had cast a postal vote, etc. Then the people who have not ben crossed of the list are sent a “please explain” letter, before they are fined if they don’t have a good excuse for not voting. In this process, I am sure that they would see if there is any significant number of people voting more than once. If there were, I suspect that things would get tightened up.

Small town New England, we just give our name, they check it off on their list and give us a paper ballot. We give our name again when leaving (another checklist at the exit) and drop the paper ballot in a box. There is some sense of folks knowing each other, but I’m relatively new and don’t get questioned.

In Georgia we filled out a form with name and address while in line, had an election worked initial the form after checking that data against a photo ID, went to a table to get our name checked off the master list (using the form as our name and address validation), then went to the next table and gave the form to them, where they wrote down my name on a sequentially numbered sheet.

All KINDS of checks.

But even if I did not have any form of ID (including recent utility bills or a lease copy), I could sign a form swearing I am who I say I am and vote anyway.

Here in Missouri I’ve never NOT been asked for an ID. Today I was asked for it twice – once when I came in (because we have two precincts voting in that place, and they need to know which way to point us) and again when I actually signed in.

Voted in Michigan all my adult life. They give us a voter registration card, as noted already, but they’ve never asked me for it.

When we get to the polls, we fill out a form with our name, address and birth-date. THey check the information on this card against the corresponding information in a big book o’ voters for that location. Since I’ve always matched, I’ve never had to produce any other information.

Also, as has been mentioned, the folks at the polling place are my neighbors, so they know me.

I think the procedure is, if they can’t match the information from your form to their book, then they ask for more ID, and check your voter registration.

Voted in New York this morning. I walked up to the table for my election district, gave my name to the poll worker who looked me up in a booklet of registered voters for the district, and then signed my name underneath the scan of my signature from my voter registration form. My address was printed alongside my signature, so if they’d had any questions they could have simply asked for a driver’s license/utility bill/etc. to verify that (no one did).

I had my voting reminder card that listed my election district number on it, but if I hadn’t brought it or forgotten the district number, I’m sure the worker greeting everyone at the entrance could have told me (as she had a long list in front of her).

In New York, they have your signature on file. It used to be on the back of your voter registration card, where you signed every time you voted, so could be compared to many signatures if you voted in the same place for a long time. Nowadays, they get a photocopy. Your signature has to match.

I fail to see why this shouldn’t be sufficient to prove identity. It’s enough to pay money via check or credit card.

The only issue would be if you registered by mail under a fake name. There’s no evidence that this is being done, but the possibility is being used by Republicans as an excuse to make voting more difficult, since the idea of democracy bothers them.

For my absentee New Jersey ballot I had to provide ID. In the inner envelope was my secret ballot. It was then placed in a larger envelope. In that I had to put a photocopy of my Driver’s License. Since I have a non-photo DL I also had to have a copy of my military ID.