The new Republican secretary of state’s effort to curb voter fraud by requiring official photo identification before gaining access to the voting booth would make it more difficult for Kentuckians to vote in elections — particularly for the elderly, minorities and disabled populations.
Michael Adams introduced the bill, which he said is meant to strengthen election security, during the opening day of the legislative session on Tuesday.
Current law requires election officers to confirm the identity of voters by personal acquaintance or document, such as a motor vehicle operator’s license, Social Security card, any ID issued by the county and approved in writing by the State Board of Elections, any ID with picture and signature, any U.S. government-issued card with picture or credit card.
If Adams’ measure passes, college and military photo IDs would be accepted. The state would also accept an affidavit showing a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID and offer adults who do not have a valid driver’s license the opportunity to obtain a standard personal photo ID card at no cost to the voter. However, the free ID would cost the state an estimated “low six figures,” the secretary of state said.
That’s a lot of money the state can’t afford for something that is not broke. Corey Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said there is no evidence that in-person voter fraud is a problem. Adams himself acknowledged that between 2006 and 2014 none of the 22 cases in which Kentuckians were imprisoned for election fraud involved voter impersonation.
Only seven states require a photo ID to vote, probably because it discourages those who lack the proper identification — specifically older folks who no longer driver and minorities and the disabled who may not have transportation — from participating in the voting process.
We agree with Shapiro, who called the bill “restrictive,” and believe legislators should look at increasing access to the polls, creating vote-by-mail and expanding poll hours rather than requiring voters to have an official photo ID.
If the bill passes, it would go into effect in the November election.