Topeka As the deadline passed Monday for people to register to vote in the general election, Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback and GOP secretary of state candidate Kris Kobach vowed, if elected, to push through laws that would require people to show a photo ID to vote.
Democratic candidates for those offices -- Tom Holland and Chris Biggs -- said the proposal was unnecessary, costly and would burden elderly Kansans and people with disabilities.
“You have to present a photo ID to cash a check written against your own account,” argued Kobach. “It's perfectly reasonable to ask for the same safeguards when voting,” he said.
Brownback also said he supports requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote. “This will help reduce instances of voter fraud,” Brownback said.
Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, and Biggs, the incumbent secretary of state, said voter fraud is not a problem in Kansas.
“This is a solution in search of a problem,” said Holland. “The largest threat to the integrity of our elections would be career politicians placing additional – and expensive - barriers between voters and the ballot box. This burden would be especially hard on the elderly, the poor and the disabled,” he said.
The League of Women Voters agrees with Holland’s assessment in opposing ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements.
The league says that based on surveys 11 percent of adult Americans, including more than one-third of people over the age of 75, don’t have a photo ID.
Biggs said Kobach couldn’t be trusted with running fair elections, and pointed to the time Kobach, while serving as chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, sent out a fundraising e-mail in which he boasted “to date the Kansas Republican Party has caged more voters in the past 11 months than the previous two years.”
Caging voters is a term generally used to describe a way to suppress voting in predominantly minority districts that tend to vote for Democrats. After the e-mail went out, state Republican Party officials said they used the “caged” term to describe efforts to identify voters and their views on certain issues.
Holland also noted that photo ID laws have generated numerous lawsuits in the states where they have been approved.
“We shouldn’t put Kansas on the same road to failure by wasting taxpayer dollars on expensive and unnecessary litigation,” he said.