Senate Bill 2 would require photo IDs to vote in Kentucky
Senate Bill 2, one of the Kentucky Senate's top priorities for this legislative session, would require voters to show a photo ID.
Secretary of State Michael Adams said this is not because of any problems in Kentucky. During an announcement Wednesday, Adams said this is mainly due to problems of voter impersonation in other states from 2006 to 2014. He hopes this move will help restore confidence in the election process, and said this is not a political issue but is something Kentuckians asked for.
"In the race for secretary of state, people had the choice to vote for personality or policy. Voters agreed with the message of securing elections and enhancing public confidence in our process," Adams said.
Republican Senator Robby Mills, who is sponsoring the bill, said people need a photo ID to do many things, so people should need one to vote as well.
"I believe the requirement of a photo ID increases public confidence. Senate Bill 2 allows for a standard no-fee personal identification card for individuals who are at least 18 years old, do not have a valid driver's license or CDL, and is eligible to vote," Senator Mills said.
Some polling places already require people to show IDs to vote, but Secretary Adams said it is not universal. Other states, such as Tennessee, Virginia and Indiana, have already implemented similar laws.
Adams is worried that there is a 'perfect storm' waiting in terms of voter fraud in Kentucky.
"We've got an estimated 3-400,000 people who should not be on voter rolls," the secretary of state said. "People on there who died or shouldn't be on there."
The legislation also includes some provisions to help people with the cost of a $30 photo ID if they cannot afford one or have trouble getting one for whatever reason. They will just need to show an affidavit that they have a reasonable impediment to getting a photo ID and then will be cleared to vote.
"You need a photo ID to open a bank account, enter the state Capitol or buy Sudafed. You should also need a photo ID to vote," Adams said. "It is scandalous we have second-class citizens in this state who can't perform basic life functions because they don't have an ID."
The bill has not been discussed yet in committee and the secretary of state said he does welcome public input on the matter. If the bill passes, it will not take effect in time for the May primary but would go into effect before the general election in November.
American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky's legal director Corey Shapiro made a statement regarding the bill:
"Mandating photo identification will exacerbate the difficulties Kentuckians already face when voting, particularly the disabled, minorities, the elderly, and hourly workers. 11 percent of all U.S. citizens and 25 percent of African-Americans lack government-issued photo identification. While this law will allow people to get such identification without upfront charges, the state will use a significant amount of taxpayer dollars to create the IDs and educate the public about the need for photo IDs. There will also be hidden costs to those needing new identification, such as time and money spent to get the identification and the underlying documents needed to acquire an ID. Indiana spent more than $10 million to produce free ID cards between 2007 and 2010."
University of Kentucky professor and election expect Josh Douglas made a series of tweets Wednesday stressing the photo ID requirement is a solution in search of a problem.
"There is no need for a photo ID law in Kentucky elections. Photo ID laws prevent only one kind of voter fraud - in-person impersonation. There is zero evidence of that kind of fraud in Kentucky," Douglas tweeted.