Archive for Thursday, April 10, 2003

Bill seeks voter ID at polls

Opponents fear plan could lower election turnout

April 10, 2003


— Kansans would have to provide proof of identity to vote or to request advance ballots under a bill on its way to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

The measure will help the state comply with federal election reforms approved last year and secure up to $32 million in federal funds to improve voting systems in the next four years, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh said Wednesday.

But some opponents believe fewer people will vote if they must provide a driver's license, a nondriver's identification card or other proof of identity. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said he was urging Sebelius to veto the measure on that ground.

Current state law requires only that Kansans sign a list of registered voters when they go to a polling place.

Under the bill, voters would have to show a current Kansas driver's license, a nondriver's identification card or other form of identification approved by the secretary of state. Kansans who vote by mail would have to include a copy of identification with their ballots.

Thornburgh said that if the bill was vetoed, Kansas might forfeit $27 million of the $32 million in federal funds and could have its election system scrutinized by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"There are enormous downsides to vetoing this bill," he said in an interview.

Sebelius has not decided whether to sign the bill, said spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran-Basso. The Senate approved the measure on a 25-15 vote Thursday, and the House passed it Friday on a vote of 68-51.

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