Want to vote? You may soon need ID

? The chairman of a committee that deals with election law has proposed a measure that would require voters to provide photo identification before their ballot would count.

“I am certain these integrity measures will enhance the confidence of the citizens of Kansas in our election process,” state Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said.

Huelskamp said he has heard from dozens of Kansans who are concerned that people who aren’t allowed to vote, including illegal immigrants, are casting ballots.

Huelskamp, who is chairman of the Senate Elections and Local Government Committee, said he suspects illegal immigrants are voting, but he added he has no proof that they are.

“There is no way of knowing until you run a system check,” he said.

His proposal would require all voters to provide photo identification prior to their ballot being counted.

The measure also would require new voters to provide photo ID before registering. The secretary of state also would be allowed to participate in a national program to verify citizenship of voters.

Under the proposal, if a voter did not have a photo ID, he or she could cast a provisional ballot, and the local canvassing board would determine later whether the ballot was valid.

Voter ID laws have been adopted in an increasing number of states but have run into numerous legal challenges.

Many groups say that there is no evidence of significant voter fraud to warrant the measures and that they produce a burden on those who don’t have a photo ID.

Huelskamp’s measure has a list of acceptable photo identification including driver’s license, employment badge, credit card, neighborhood association, retirement center, school, military, buyer’s club, passport, public assistance or from the state revenue department.

Opponents of ID laws also say they produce delays at the polls that further reduce voter participation.

A record low turnout of 18.2 percent of registered voters in the August primaries in Kansas startled state officials. Douglas County was the third-lowest in the state at 12.2 percent.

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, and a member of the Elections Committee, said Monday that she wants to hear Huelskamp’s proposal but said the Legislature should move carefully on the matter.

“We’re looking for a balance between access to the polls and security,” Francisco said. “We’d like as many people to vote as possible.”

Francisco said she has worked as a poll worker for 20 years – except when she is on the ballot – and has never run into a problem of a person trying to vote illegally.

“I hope we talk about what are the problems people are experiencing and then try to make changes to help us solve those problems,” she said.

Francisco said with the increased use of advanced voting and mail-in ballots, there are many issues to consider.

State law already requires inactive or first-time voters in a county to provide some form of identification.