Voter ID bill receives favorable hearing
FRANKFORT – Legislation that would impose stricter voter identification requirements advanced in the Kentucky General Assembly today after the Senate State & Local Government Committee passed an amended version of the measure.
Known as Senate Bill 2, the legislation would require a voter to present photographic identification at the poll. Under the amended bill, an expired photo ID would be accepted.
Kentucky already has a law that requires identification to vote, but it does not require photo IDs. Also, a voter currently does not have to show any ID if the poll worker already knows them and can attest to the person’s identity.
“With thousands of voters on the roll who are deceased or have moved to other locations, (SB 2) simply highlights the importance of making sure voters truly are who they say they are,” said Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, who sponsored the bill along with Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown. “There needs to be reasonable requirements that they properly identify themselves at the polls. That is what (SB 2) is designed to do.”
If a voter does not have a photo ID, they would be able to show another form of ID and affirm, under the penalty of perjury, that they are qualified to vote, Mills said. Other acceptable IDs would include Social Security cards and credit cards.
A voter without a photo ID would also be required to sign a statement identifying a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID. Those impediments would include not being able to afford the documents necessary to obtain an ID.
A voter who comes to the polls with no ID would be able to cast a provisional ballot, a process involving filling out a separate envelope before casting a separate ballot. The ballot would not count unless the voter visited the county clerk’s office by the Friday after Election Day. That’s when the voter would have to fill out a separate affidavit explaining the reason for not having an ID.
Another provision of SB 2 would provide a free state-issued ID card for individuals who are at least 18 and do not have a valid driver’s license. It currently costs $30 for that ID.
“Providing a free photo ID to indigents will benefit them far beyond just facilitating their right to vote,” Mills said. “Possessing a photo ID is an indispensable part of functioning in modern society.”
SB 2 would also change the deadline the Secretary of State shall certify the total number of votes in a given election from noon on Friday following an election to noon on Monday following the election.
Corey Shapiro of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky testified before the committee in opposition to SB 2.
“There is no evidence at all that in-person voting fraud is a problem in Kentucky,” he said, “as demonstrated by not a single credible instance of voter fraud in the close election last fall – or in any election in Kentucky this century. In-person voter fraud is simply incredibly rare.”
Secretary of State Michael Adams, who testified in support of SB 2, said the photo ID idea goes back to a 2004 commission on federal election reform co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter.
“There is no evidence of extensive fraud in U.S. elections or of multiple voting, but both occur, and it could affect the outcome of a close election,” Adams said while quoting the commission report. “Photo identification cards currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings and cash a check. Voting is equally important.”
SB 2 now goes to the full Senate for consideration in the coming days. If the bill would become law, photo IDs would not be required for the May primary election but would be required for the November general election.