ID needed to register to vote ... sometimes

June 30, 2010
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Today, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld our state’s voter ID law requiring those who want to vote at the polls to show approved photo identification, like a driver’s license. In his dissent, Justice Theodore Boehm noted how you don’t need photo ID to register to vote.

But now you sort of do.

Starting tomorrow, Hoosiers can register to vote online at The new Online Voter Registration Solution is a result of legislation passed in 2009 to offer more and easier ways for people to register to vote.

It’s easier in the sense you don’t have to register in person or spend the time mailing in your registration. But there is a catch: You have to have an Indiana driver’s license or identification card to use the system.

You have to sign your voter registration form. Because you can’t do that electronically, your signature for registration is your signature with the BMV. In order to attach that in the new system, you have to enter your driver’s license or ID number.

But what about voter registration fraud? How will this be prevented with the new online system? Can’t someone use someone else’s driver’s license number to register?

In theory, yes, but a FAQ sheet on the new system says that county voter registration officials will use the online voter registration application, driver’s license or state ID card account holder information to verify someone’s identity. These are apparently similar tools to what they use with the Statewide Voter Registration System to prevent fraud to validate information through paper-based voter registration applications.

If you don’t have a valid ID right now, there is a way around it by using the current paper system. You’ll still need that ID to be able to vote so you may as well get one before registering to vote if possible. The Supreme Court says so.



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