Frequently Asked Questions About Voter Identification


Frequently Asked Questions About Voter Identification

This short publication tells you when you need to show an ID to vote. You only need to show an ID at certain times. This publication also tells you which ID you will need to show. If you do not want to show your ID, it tells you what will happen.

Will I Need to Bring Identification to Vote at the Poll Site or Attach a Copy to My Vote-By-Mail Ballot?

Unlike many other states, California does not have a restrictive Voter Identification (ID) law. Generally, a California voter will not have to bring identification to vote.

Under the Help America Vote Act and California Elections Code section 2150(7), when registering to vote, a person must provide either:

  • Their current and valid driver's license, or
  • State identification on the affidavit of registration, or
  • The last four digits of his or her social security number

If a person does not have any of these numbers, the California Secretary of State will assign a unique number to the person.

When May I Be Asked To Show My ID?

You may only be asked to show your ID under very limited circumstances:

  • You are a first time voter and you registered by mail, and
  • You did not provide your driver license number, or California identification number, or the last four digits of your social security number on your voter registration form

What Type of ID May I Show?

You must provide either (1) a current and valid photo identification – including photo ID from non-state entities, like an employer – that has your name on it; or (2) some form of identification without a photo, but with your name and address. Acceptable types of identification for each are listed below.

Acceptable types of Photo Identification:1

  • Driver’s license or identification card of any state
  • Passport
  • Employee identification card
  • Identification card provided by a commercial establishment
  • Credit or debit card
  • Military identification card
  • Student identification card
  • Health club identification card
  • Insurance plan identification card

Source(s): California Code of Regulations, Section 20107(d)(1)

Acceptable Types of Identification Without a Photo:2

  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Government paycheck
  • Voter notification card
  • Public housing identification card
  • Lease or rental statement or agreement
  • Tuition statement or bill
  • Discharge certificate, pardon, or other official document issued to the voter in connection with the resolution of a criminal case, indictment, sentence or other matter

Source(s): California Code of Regulations, Section 20107(d)(2)

What Can I Do If I Am Asked to Show ID and I Disagree?

Before Election Day, the County Election Official's office determines who must show ID to vote. When you sign in to vote at the poll site, there will be a note next to your name showing that you must provide ID. The poll worker cannot ask you for ID unless the voting sign-in roster indicates that you must do so.

If you are asked to show ID and you disagree, you may cast a vote using a provisional ballot and you may also:

  • Ask the poll worker to show you where in the voting sign-in roster it indicates you must provide ID, or
  • Contact your County Election Official's office, or
  • Contact Disability Rights California 

Contact DRC’s Voting Hotline at 1-888-569-7955 if:

  • You or someone you know feels discriminated against while voting because of your (or their) disability; OR
  • You believe that state or federal voting-rights laws have been violated.

For more information and a complete list of acceptable forms of ID, see the Secretary of State’s web page on Voter-ID.


  • 1. A valid photo ID is one that you usually present in day-to-day transactions and has both your picture and name
  • 2. A valid form of identification without a photo can be a document with your name and address. Unless it is a permanent document (i.e. a pardon or discharge), it must be dated after the last general election.