Florida voter ID law has more options than Texas one blocked by feds

By Dara Kam

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Posted: 7:07 p.m. Monday, March 12, 2012

— Florida law requires voters to present photo identification when they go to the polls, but it allows more alternatives than do the Texas and South Carolina laws that have been blocked by the U.S. Justice Department.

Whereas Texas and South Carolina require government-issued identification such as driver licenses, military IDs and passports, voters in Florida can also use other types of cards as long as they have photos — including credit and debit cards, student identification, public assistance cards or those form neighborhood association or retirement centers. If the identification cards don’t have a signature, they can be matched against another document with a signature.

“We’re very liberal about the IDs,” Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said. “We’re nowhere near strictly government ID.”

The biggest difference, however, between Florida and the other states is what happens when voters don’t have the required identification with them when they go to vote. In Florida, voters can sign an affidavit swearing they are eligible to vote and then can cast a provisional ballot. The canvassing board verifies those ballots to make sure such voters were allowed to vote in the precinct where they cast their ballot and didn’t vote anywhere else.

Bucher said some parts of Palm Beach County, such as Palm Beach Gardens, have a high volume of voters who come to the polls without identification. She said this is often because retirees decide to cast their ballots while they are on the golf course.

The Texas law allowed voters without government-issued identification to cast provisional ballots but required them to present the identification to the elections supervisors office within six days after the election. In South Carolina, voters could cast provisional ballots but had to present the identification before the election was certified by the canvassing board.