Voting is an American right and privilege, and when you turn eighteen years old, you should exercise that right, make your way to the polls, and use your voice for the good of your country. While voting in local, state, and federal elections is incredibly important, especially for young people, it can also be intimidating to know which politicians share your values, how to become a registered voter, where to go to vote, and what forms of identification you need to take with you to your polling station.
In many states, a driver's license is the only form of identification that is required to be allowed to vote. But what if you lose your license right before election day?
First, you should be sure to retrace all of your steps and check your laundry, under the seats in your car, the pockets of all of your pants and jackets, the bottom of any bags you’ve used recently, and any other place that your license could be. Not having to go through the replacement process is a much better option than the alternative!
If you still are not able to find your license, your first option is to look over our list of identification requirements broken down by each state to check to see if you have an alternate form of ID that can be used. For many states, things like utility bills or paychecks with your name and current address will work, as well as photo ID from your college or university, a government employee ID, or any other government-issued identification, like a hunting license or voter registration ID.
A lost license is a big deal. Aside from the possibility of not being able to vote, if someone else comes into possession of the license, they can use it against you. It is important to report it as lost to your local police department in the case of someone finding it and using it to steal your identity. With the information on your license, someone has the ability to open new credit card accounts, possibly access your bank accounts, and a host of other complications. Reporting the lost license to the police creates a paper trail that helps your case if something bad does happen.
Your next step should be to visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website to find out what documentation you need in order to start the process of replacing your lost license. Each state will have different requirements, including whether you need to go into your local DMV to take a new photo and sign some paperwork, or whether you can complete the process online. The DMV website should also be able to tell you how long the replacement process takes, and whether it will be possible to receive your new license in the mail before the next voting day. If not, you will need to explore whether you have the appropriate alternate documents for your state.
While losing your driver's license is not the end of the world and does not definitively mean that you will not be allowed to vote in the next election, it is still important to take the steps to ensure that you get a replacement and that your identity is protected from the bad guys.