"Do I need a REAL ID to vote?"

"Do I need a REAL ID to vote?"

A REAL ID is not required to vote in any state.

However, in some states voters who want to renew or obtain a state photo ID or driver's license (for voting or another purpose) have no choice but to go through the REAL ID process. VoteRiders is tracking the rollout of REAL ID across the country and how it intersects with voter ID. Our REAL ID resources offer up-to-date information for anyone who needs it.

We’d appreciate your help! Share your experience obtaining a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or state ID with us.

We talk to voters every day. They chat VoteRiders on Facebook Messenger and call or text our Voter ID Helpline (844-338-8743). Our state Coordinators, partners, and volunteers meet them at community events or contact them during canvasses and phone banks. 

In recent months, one query has been steadily rising on our list of the most frequently asked questions:  

Do I need a REAL ID to vote?

It’s easy to understand why. We know that keeping up with the current status of each state’s voter ID requirements is challenging. As if voter ID weren’t confusing enough, along comes a new identity law that applies to all 50 states and the District of Columbia! REAL ID adds another potential Fall 2020 deadline, another list of qualifying documents, and the prospect of chasing vital records through layers of bureaucracy.

Indeed, the REAL ID stories are multiplying faster than wait times at ID-issuing offices across the country.

States are reporting miscommunication, staffing challenges, technical glitches, and delays as they roll out their REAL ID services. 

Older Americans are commonly finding that their birth certificates are not considered acceptable, triggering an ongoing series of appointments and fees to update information or to obtain a birth certificate or passport.

For many women, another set of appointments and fees might be required to locate an acceptable marriage license (for example, signed by a government agency rather than a priest) or account for surname changes. 

So many of these experiences are familiar to us at VoteRiders. They reflect and reinforce the barriers to ID that we help eligible voters navigate every day. With the 2020 election taking place only one month after REAL ID takes effect nationally, these additional layers of complexity are a cause for concern.

Officials expect a surge in demand for REAL ID (and its corresponding documents) as the year progresses. In many states, this will likely compound problems created by an already overburdened system.

So, let’s hear your story! If you know of someone who’d be willing to share their REAL ID or voter ID story, please encourage them to let us know!

Hannah Piercey

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