Many states have passed laws that go beyond the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and require additional unnecessary identification either at registration or voting. These restrictions hinder American citizens' efforts to exercise their right and responsibility to participate in elections. Voter identification laws include requirements such as proof of citizenship, government-issued photo ID, other types of photo ID, or a broad range of documents not necessarily including a photo.
Several ID laws have prompted lawsuits from voting rights advocates because they disproportionately impact the elderly, students, women, people with disabilities, low income people and people of color. This briefing paper outlines the current state of legislation around the country regarding additional identification at voting, summarizes recent litigation, and discusses the reasons why additional voter identification is an unnecessary burden designed to address a problem -- voter impersonation -- that is remarkably rare.