October 11, 2012

Broad Support for Photo ID Voting Requirements

Overview

Proposals to require voters to show photo identification before being allowed to vote draw overwhelming support. By 77% to 20%, voters favor a requirement that those voting be required to show photo ID. Opinion about this is little changed from six years ago, when 80% of voters supported voter photo ID requirements.

Several states have enacted strict photo ID voting requirements, but there have been court challenges to many of these laws. Last week, a Pennsylvania judge blocked enforcement of that state’s voter ID law.

In a national survey of 1,263 registered voters, conducted Sept. 12-16 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, nearly all (98%) say they are confident that they have the identification they will need at the polls on Nov. 6.

There are partisan differences in views of photo ID requirements for voters, though majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents favor such requirements. Fully 95% of Republican voters say a photo ID should be required to vote, as do 83% of independents. By comparison, 61% of Democrats who say photo identification should be required; 34% say it should not. Liberal Democrats are about equally divided on this question (46% should be required, 48% should not).

Most Voters in States with Photo ID Laws Know about Requirements

Just four states (Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee) have strict photo identification requirements in effect for the 2012 election, in which voters must show official photo identification to vote. About nine-in-ten voters (92%) in these states know that their state requires photo identification.

Laws vary in other states, but for the most part, voters are aware of the voting requirements in their state. About three-quarters (77%) of voters in states where photo ID requirements are less stringent know that a photo ID is required. And 67% of those in states with requirements for identification (though not necessarily photo identification) say photo identification is required.

Many states have no voter identification requirements, and 48% of voters in these states correctly say that their state does not require photo identification, although 38% say that photo identification is required to vote in their state.

Support for photo identification laws is somewhat higher among voters in states with some voter identification requirements (83%) than among those in states without laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls (70%).

For more on opinions about voter identification requirements by race and ethnicity, see the Pew Hispanic Center’s report: “Latino Voters Support Obama by 3-1 Ratio, But Are Less Certain than Others about Voting,” Oct. 11, 2012.