INDIANA'S PHOTO ID LAW Background information

Contact: Allison Fore

The Climate

Indiana has conducted six successful elections since the implementation of the law without one recorded instance of a voter that could not vote due to the requirement. Indiana’s citizens overwhelmingly supported the law as a simple measure designed to prevent vote fraud and thereby protect the integrity of the vote.  Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa conducted a poll in March 2005 which found that 75 percent of the 1,003 Hoosiers surveyed support requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID. A year later, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal conducted a national survey and found that 81 percent of the country favored the requirement that voters produce a valid photo ID when they go to vote.

Most recently, statistics have shown that voter turnout has increased after the law was enacted when compared to statistics prior to the law. Jeffrey Milyo, professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri noted that overall voter turnout in Indiana actually increased after the implementation of photo ID. His study evaluated the effects of photo identification requirements by comparing county-level turnout in Indiana in the 2002 and 2006 mid-term elections, since the current ID law was not in place in '02.  See the report here.


 How many elections have taken place with the law in place?

  • Six elections total: Two statewide elections, two statewide municipal elections and two special elections (Fall 2005 through Fall 2007) have shown the overwhelming success of this law.

Does Indiana make photo IDs free to anyone who needs them? 

  • Yes, Indiana's voter identification law requires that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles provide free photo identification to citizens who do not already have identification that will suffice (i.e. an Indiana Driver's license or U.S. Passport). The law has built in exceptions for groups who are likely to have difficulty ascertaining photo identification to vote (see above).

Have there been any problems with implementing Indiana’s voter ID law?

  • The law is designed to prevent disenfranchisement, and it has been successful in doing so. A recently published study by the University of Missouri (Truman School of Public Affairs) found there was no drop in the expected number of in-person voters in Indiana elections after the passage of the "Photo-ID" law. In fact, statistics show that a 2% increase in voter turnout occurred across all population segments after the law was enacted.

Is this a partisan law?

  • Over 75- 80% nationwide approve of showing your ID at the poll. That hardly makes it a partisan issue. (Indianapolis Star/NBC-Wall Street Journal). The concept is a refinement of the federally approved Help America Vote Act – a measure that passed Congress in a bipartisan manner. In 2005, the bipartisan Carter-Baker commission – which was chaired by President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker – recommended photo identification at the polls in order to defer fraud. The law creates a level-playing field for everyone, regardless of politics.

Do you have documented instances of in-person vote fraud in Indiana?

  • No clearinghouse currently exists at the local or state level to monitor all types of election fraud. But, in-person fraud, which is a form of identity theft, exists. Identity theft continues to be the fastest growing crime in the country (National Crime Prevention Council). The bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recognize that in-person voting fraud is a problem. Whether it is prosecuted is a different question.  The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Court pointed out that catching vote impersonators is incredibly difficult because they are in-and-out of the polling booth so quickly.

"But the absence of prosecutions is explained by the endemic under-enforcement of minor criminal laws (minor as they appear to the public and prosecutors, at all events) and by the extreme difficulty of apprehending a voter impersonator. He enters the polling place, gives a name that is not his own, votes, and leaves. If later it is discovered that the name he gave is that of a dead person, no one at the polling place will remember the face of the person who gave that name, and if someone did remember it, what would he do with the information?"

The Court also noted that prosecutors tend to focus on the prosecutions of other types of crime. This type of fraud may not be prosecuted to the extent that it should be – but Indiana’s law provides that additional protection for honest voters.

Voting is a sacred civic transaction that should be protected. While a small number of opponents incorrectly claim that identity theft doesn’t exist at the polling place, many agree that we should be proactive about the very legitimate threat.

Others Agree

A number of parties also filed Amicus Briefs with the Court in support of the respondents, including the United States Department of Justice, Democrat and Republican Election Officials, United States Senators Mitch McConnell, Robert Bennett, Christopher Bond, Congressmen Roy Blunt, Lamar Smith, and Vernon Ehlers. Also including the Center for Equal Opportunity, Project 21, and Former Marion County Clerk, Doris Anne Sadler – who provides a reasoned rejection of the Marion County respondent brief.

Indiana's Voter ID Law

Public Law 109-2005 requires Indiana residents to present photo ID before casting a ballot at the polls on Election Day. The photo ID must meet 4 criteria to be acceptable for voting purposes. It must:

  • Display the voter's photo
  • Display the voter's name, and the name must conform with the voter registration record
  • Display an expiration date and either be current or have expired sometime after the date of the last General Election
  • Be issued by the State of Indiana or the U.S. government

In most cases, an Indiana driver's license, Indiana photo ID card, US Passport, or Military ID is sufficient. A student ID from an Indiana state school may only be used if it meets all of the 4 criteria specified above. For more information on the types of identification or documents required to receive appropriate identification, please visit

The law requires that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles provide free photo identification to citizens who cannot afford an ID.

Persons with limited incomes, those with religious objections, and those who forget to bring adequate identification to the polls may cast an in-person ballot without photo identification as long as they submit an affidavit at the clerk’s office within 10 days. Additionally, voters can vote absentee-in-person at the county election office before Election Day, and while there, affirm that they have limited income or religious objection. Persons voting absentee do not provide a copy of their photo ID.

A voter who is a resident at a state-licensed facility that serves as his or her polling place may claim an exemption to the photo ID law at the polls on Election Day. Also, seniors 65 and older are automatically allowed to absentee vote.


Over the last six years, election officials in Indiana and throughout the United States have invested a great deal of time, money, and energy to implement improvements to the state’s election processes to increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections. The federal Help America Vote Act in 2002 (HAVA) required states to meet uniform standards in election administration, as well as improve voter registration accuracy. In 2005, a commission chaired by President Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, issued a report that recommended election reforms. That commission addressed in-person vote fraud, emphasizing that "there is no doubt that it occurs." That commission recommended requiring photo identification at the polls in order to deter fraud.

As part of the most sweeping change in election law since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Indiana implemented election reform in accordance with HAVA and the Carter-Baker Commission opinions. Those reforms included stronger absentee ballot laws, updated voting machines for polling places, a statewide voter registration list, improved accessibility for persons with disabilities, and increased funding for poll worker training and voter education. In addition to these reforms, Indiana implemented Senate Enrolled Act 483 – 2005, which became effective on July 1, 2005 and requires every voter to present approved photo identification when they vote in-person at the polling location.

The constitutionality of the law was quickly tested in federal court, as Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita was cited as the respondent in the case due to his advocacy of the measure and as his official capacity as Indiana’s Chief Election Officer. (Indiana Democratic Party v. Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita). On January 4th, 2007, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of upholding Indiana's Photo ID law. The opinion issued by Judge Richard Posner affirmed an earlier decision of U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher represented the Secretary of State's office in the litigation.  On September 25, 2007, the United States Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari, propelling a review of the case onto their 2008 schedule. Now, the Court will hear oral arguments in the case on Wednesday, January 9th, 2008.

If you have need additional information, please visit or call Allison Fore, Director of Communications at 317-233-8655.