- Voter ID requirements improve election integrity, while voter turnout increases, without impacting election outcomes.
- Pennsylvania voters support Voter ID requirements by a wide margin, with support across all regions and demographic groups.
- Voter ID requirements are common throughout the country. Thirty-five states require an ID to vote; Pennsylvania is among the 15 states that do not.
- Currently, Pennsylvania does not require identification to vote in person, unless it is the voter’s first time voting in an election district.
- Individuals voting absentee or via mail-in-ballot must provide a “valid and current” driver’s license number or PennDOT ID. For voters without these, the state requires the last four digits of their Social Security number. And “only if” none of these are available, does Pennsylvania accept limited types of valid proof of identification.
- In 2012, the state enacted a voter ID law that was later struck down as unconstitutional due to issues with implementing the law. Specifically, the law made it difficult for low-income individuals to obtain the necessary identification.
- Since then, voter trust in elections has dropped significantly. A 2022 Gallup poll found that only 63 percent of voters nationwide were “very or somewhat confident” ahead of the 2022 midterms that votes would be accurately cast and counted. This is a 12-point drop in confidence compared to the 2006 midterms.
- House Bill 1300 was an election reform bill passed by the legislature in 2021, that provided for voter identification requirements. However, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed HB 1300, citing the bill’s voter ID requirements as a reason for his veto.
- Less than a month later, Wolf indicated that despite his veto, he was not completely opposed to voter ID requirements.
The Constitutional Amendment
- Senate Bill 1 includes a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to “present a valid identification before receiving a ballot to vote in person.” Furthermore, this proposed legislation requires voters not voting in person to “provide proof of a valid identification with his or her ballot.”
- The amendment would allow for multiple forms of ID, not just photo ID.
- The proposed amendment also provides free government-issued IDs to those without one, stating, “if a qualified elector does not possess a valid identification, he or she shall, upon request and confirmation of identity, be furnished with a government-issued Identification at no cost to the qualified elector.”
- Providing free identification addresses the implementation problems that the 2012 law faced.
- A voter ID constitutional amendment was introduced in May of 2021 as SB 735. In June of 2021, this legislation passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote.
- If the House and Senate approve the amendment, now part of SB 1, during the 2023–24 legislative session, the voter ID constitutional amendment could be on the ballot as early as the 2023 primary election.
Voter ID and Turnout
- A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that voter ID does not reduce turnout, nor does it have an impact on election outcomes.
- A 2015 study determined that 93 percent of all voters already have a valid form of photo ID.
- Despite roughly two-thirds of the states being subject to a voter identification law, voter turnout in 2018 saw an historic surge. Pew Research Center analysts saw “historic jumps” among every racial group. Black turnout rose nearly 27 percent, outpacing the turnout increase among White voters. Hispanic and Asian voter turnout increased by 50 percent.
- In 2021, Georgia enacted Senate Bill 202, an election reform law that required proof of identity when absentee voting. President Biden decried the law as “Jim Crow.” Despite this, the state saw record-breaking turnout in the 2022 midterms.
Support for Voter ID
- Voter ID receives wide-ranging support nationally. A July 2021 poll from the Honest Elections Project shows that 81 percent of voters, support requiring identification to vote.
- High levels of support are also seen in Pennsylvania polling: A June 2021 poll from Franklin and Marshall College found that 74 percent of respondents, including 77 percent of Independents, favored photo identification requirements.
- October 2022 polling from the Commonwealth Foundation revealed high levels of support for the proposed constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania, with 70 percent of respondents supporting the measure:
- By voter registration, 91 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of Democrats, and 70 percent of independents support the amendment.
- Support in Philadelphia was 57 percent, and 64 percent in the Philadelphia suburbs. Support was greater than 67 percent everywhere else in Pennsylvania.
- By race, the amendment polled at 58 percent with African Americans and 66 percent with Hispanics.
- Thirty-five states require an ID to vote, with 18 requiring a photo ID and 17 allowing for certain non-photo IDs.
- In November 2018, voters in two states, Arkansas and North Carolina, approved ballot measures to amend their state constitutions to require photo voter identification., 
- In 2022, voters in Nebraska approved a voter ID ballot initiative by a two to one margin.
Pennsylvania is among the minority of states that do not require proof of identification to vote in person. Such requirements are popular with voters and have no negative effects on turnout, or election outcomes. At a time where confidence in elections is dropping, Voter ID requirements protect the integrity of all votes and serve to rebuild trust in Pennsylvania’s election process.
Pennsylvania Department of State, “Voter Identification Requirements for Voting,” September 2022, https://www.dos.pa.gov/VotingElections/OtherServicesEvents/Documents/2022-09-26-DOS-Voter-ID-Guidance.pdf.
Pennsylvania Department of State, “Voter Identification Requirements.”
Rick Lyman, “Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Struck Down as Judge Cites Burden on Citizens,” New York Times, January 17, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/us/politics/pennsylvania-voter-id-law-struck-down.html.
Justin McCarthy, “Confidence in Election Integrity Hides Deep Partisan Divide,” Gallup, November 4, 2022, https://news.gallup.com/poll/404675/confidence-election-integrity-hides-deep-partisan-divide.aspx.
Rep. Seth Grove, HB 1300, Pennsylvania General Assembly Regular Session 2021–2022, last action Veto, https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/billinfo.cfm?syear=2021&sind=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1300.
Gov. Tom Wolf, Veto: House Bill 1300, Printer’s Number 1869, June 30, 2021, https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/HB-1300.pdf.
Jonathan Lai, “Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf Says He’s No Longer Opposed to New Voter ID Rules,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 20, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/pennsylvania-voter-id-tom-wolf-interview-20210720.html.
Sen. Dan Laughlin, SB 1, Pennsylvania General Assembly Regular Session 2023–24, last action referred to Rules and Executive Nominations, January 10, 2023, https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2023&sInd=0&body=S&type=B&bn=0001.
Sen. Judy Ward, SB 735, Pennsylvania General Assembly Regular Session 2021–2022, https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/BillInfo.cfm?syear=2021&sind=0&body=S&type=B&bn=735.
Pennsylvania State Senate, “Senate Roll Calls, Senate Bill 735 PN 0925 Final Passage,” June 23, 2021, https://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/RC/Public/rc_view_action2.cfm?sess_yr=2021&sess_ind=0&rc_body=S&rc_nbr=207.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, “House Roll Calls, Senate Bill 106 PN 1279 Final Passage,” December 15, 2021, https://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/RC/Public/rc_view_action2.cfm?sess_yr=2021&sess_ind=0&rc_body=H&rc_nbr=687.
Pennsylvania State Senate, “Senate Roll Calls, Senate Bill 106 PN 1857 Concurrence in House Amendments as Amended,” July 8, 2022, https://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/RC/Public/rc_view_action2.cfm?sess_yr=2021&sess_ind=0&rc_body=S&rc_nbr=709.
Pennsylvania State Senate, “Senate Committee Roll Call Votes, State Government, Senate Bill 1 PN 0022 Reported as Amended,” January 9, 2023, https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/RCC/PUBLIC/listVoteSummary.cfm?sYear=2023&sInd=0&chamber=S&cteeCde=41&theDate=01/09/2023&RollCallId=8.
Vanessa M. Perez, “Americans with Photo ID: A Breakdown of Demographic Characteristics,” Project Vote, February 2015, https://www.projectvote.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/AMERICANS-WITH-PHOTO-ID-Research-Memo-February-2015.pdf.
Jens Manuel Krogstad, Luis Noe-Bustamante, and Antonio Flores, “Historic Highs In 2018 Voter Turnout Extended Across Racial And Ethnic Groups,” Pew Research Center, May 1, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/01/historic-highs-in-2018-voter-turnout-extended-across-racial-and-ethnic-groups/.
Seung Min Kim, “Biden Attacks New Georgia Voting Law,” Washington Post, March 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-georgia-law-jim-crow/2021/03/26/35383056-8e40-11eb-a730-1b4ed9656258_story.html.
Georgia Secretary of State, “Record Breaking Turnout in Georgia’s Runoff Election,” December 7, 2022, https://www.sos.ga.gov/news/record-breaking-turnout-georgias-runoff-election.
Brett Samuels, “Poll Finds Growing Support for Voter ID Requirements,” The Hill, August 18, 2021, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/568385-poll-finds-growing-support-for-voter-id-requirements/.
Franklin and Marshall College Center for Opinion Research, “Franklin & Marshall College Poll: June 2021,” June 2021, https://www.fandm.edu/uploads/files/109736436702240144-f-mpolljune2021-summary.pdf.
National Conference of State Legislatures, “Voter ID Laws,” October 18, 2022, https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx.
Ballotpedia, “Arkansas Issue 2, Voter ID Amendment (2018),” https://ballotpedia.org/Arkansas_Issue_2,_Voter_ID_Amendment_(2018).
Ballotpedia, “North Carolina Voter ID Amendment (2018),” https://ballotpedia.org/North_Carolina_Voter_ID_Amendment_(2018).
Ballotpedia, “Nebraska Initiative 432, Photo Voter Identification Initiative (2022),” https://ballotpedia.org/Nebraska_Initiative_432,_Photo_Voter_Identification_Initiative_(2022).