Voter photo ID law introduced on Senate floor

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 05:58:43-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — On the first day of the 2020 legislative session, a voter photo ID law was introduced on the Senate floor.

One of the campaign issues Secretary of State Michael Adams focused on was requiring voters to show an ID.

"We need a photo ID to open a bank account, to enter the state Capitol, to buy Sudafed. We should also need a photo ID to vote," said Adams.

Senate Bill 2 would require just that to cast a ballot.

"I believe that the requirement of a photo ID to vote increases confidence in the election process," said Sen. Robby Mills, SB 2 co-sponsor.

"It is an excellent start, but also a work in progress," said Adams.

To make it easier to obtain an ID, Mills says the $30 fee to get one would be waived.

The bill also reads that if you don't produce an ID at the poll, you can still cast a provisional ballot. You will then have to appear in-person at your county clerk's office by the Friday of election week with further information.

"We have a perfect storm right now in Kentucky because we have no requirement to prove identity with a photo ID. We also have voter rolls that have been not adequately maintained for the past decade. We've got an estimated 300,000-400,000 people on our rolls that we know shouldn't be on our voter rolls," said Adams.

UK Professor of Election Law Joshua A. Douglas says this bill is a solution in search of a problem.

"We're just creating more hurdles for voters to jump over for no good reason, and this has a really big potential for having a disenfranchising effect," said Douglas.

Douglas worked on Secretary Adams's transition team, and has cautioned the secretary about the problems a photo ID law would cause.

"For most of us, it's not a big deal. The problem is for a certain segment of population, and studies show that tends to be poorer people, racial minorities, students, they simply have no need to have an ID," said Douglas.

Douglas went on to explain that photo ID laws only one type of voter fraud, which is in-person impersonation.

"In fact, one study looked at over a billion ballots cast over 12 years, and found only 31 possible instances of in-person impersonation. And then when digging down further, it showed that those weren't actually credible allegations," said Douglas.

In his own research into voter fraud, Adams found a study that focused on a time period between 2006-2014.

"I found 22 instances of people going to prison for election fraud in Kentucky. None of those cases were voter impersonation cases," said Adams.

Democratic State Rep. Charles Booker recalled the difficulties his grandfather used to face while voting when asked for comment on the bill.

"We have to be mindful of any policy, even if well-intended, could have the affect of harming turnout, or making folks be disconnected or disenfranchised," said Booker.

Adams says if a photo ID law is passed, the plan is to have the requirement in place for the November election.