First-Time Voters: ID Requirements in San Mateo County

In light of recent legislative changes for voter identification in Pennsylvania and other states, here's a guide to voter ID law in California.

Changes to voter ID law that affected California occurred in 2002, when the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed to require voters to provide one of several specific forms of ID, and in 2006, when state law was changed to conform to HAVA. 

David Tom, San Mateo County election manager, predicts no changes in voter ID law for California in the near future. Tom says the identification of voters in San Mateo County is "a very smooth process."

San Mateo County voters may register at any time, but to be eligible to vote in an upcoming election, your Voter Registration Form must be postmarked no later than 15 days before that election. You can obtain a registration form at any library, city or county office, DMV, or post office.

If you are not a first-time voter in San Mateo County, you will not be required to show identification at the polls.

First-Time Voter Requirements in CA:

If you registered by mail, or you did not provide one of the required types of identification at the time you registered, and you are voting in a federal election, an election officer will ask you to show a form of ID, such as: driver's license, state ID card, passport, credit or debit card, student ID card, insurance plan ID card, bank statement or utility bill if has valid name and address. See more accepted forms of ID here.

Voters who registered by mail who want to vote in person, but have not provided an accepted form of identification are allowed to cast provisional ballots.

Absentee ballot voters must provide one of the listed forms of ID with their ballot. Absentee registration is due Oct. 30.

National Context

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, this year, voter ID laws are currently pending in 32 states. That includes new proposals in 14 states, proposals to strengthen existing voter ID laws in 10 states, and bills in 9 states to amend the new voter ID laws passed in 2011.

Pennsylvania's governor signed a new voter ID bill on March 14, and the Virginia General Assembly has sent a new voter ID bill to the governor.

States with the strictest voter photo ID laws are: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennesee, Georigia and Kansas. The following states also require photo ID: Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana Michigan, Wisconsin, Arisona, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Idaho.

Proponents of stricter voter ID laws say the laws help prevent voter fraud. Critics say it discriminates against poor and minority voters who often do not have passports or driver's licenses.

Are you happy with California's voter ID laws, or should the state be considering changes? What's your opinion on Pennsylvania's new law? Tell us in the comments below.

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Heidi Beck August 22, 2012 at 04:26 PM
You can also get a voter registration form online: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote/


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