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Archive for Monday, April 18, 2011

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signs Kris Kobach’s bill requiring photo ID at polls

Gov. Sam Brownback said Monday that the voter ID bill will protect the integrity of Kansas elections. The law requires photo ID of all in-person voters and proof of citizenship to register to vote starting in January 2013.

April 18, 2011, 9:13 a.m. Updated April 18, 2011, 6:33 p.m.

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— Voters in Kansas will have to show photo identification to cast ballots under a law signed Monday by Gov. Sam Brownback, who predicted that the new requirement won't cause obstacles at the polls.

Brownback and many fellow Republicans see the measure as an important check on potential election fraud, but a state leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called the change "radical" and one that could leave some voters disenfranchised.

Brownback signed the legislation at a ceremony at the Statehouse with Secretary of State Kris Kobach, another Republican who pushed for the legislation. The event was exactly three months after Kobach outlined tougher photo ID proposals, though the secretary of state said the bill that passed contains most of what he wanted.

"For those who are lawful citizens of Kansas, this bill will not create obstacles to casting a ballot — not at all," Brownback said. "I think these are reasonable steps to protect the rights of our citizens. Protecting the integrity of elections is a core piece of a working democracy."

The new photo ID requirement will take effect Jan. 1. Starting in 2013, anyone registering to vote for the first time in Kansas will have to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, though a Kansas driver's license could suffice for many. Also, election officials will have to verify the signatures of prospective voters before sending them a ballot by mail.

Kobach made combatting election fraud the key issue of his successful campaign last year — overcoming skepticism that it's significant in Kansas. An intense debate over the problem's size continues, with criminal prosecutions still rare.

The secretary of state suggested the legislation made the most significant changes in state election laws in a century.

"The biggest change before this would have been, of course, the granting of the right to vote to women," he said. Kansas granted equal voting rights to women in 1912.

Critics contend the new law will suppress voter turnout and decrease the number of people registered to vote. They argue that poor and minority voters are most likely to be affected. Kevin Myles, president of the NAACP's Kansas chapter, said opponents of the new law will monitor how it works.

"We are considering all options for how we could ensure that no legal American citizen is disenfranchised, as a result of administrative errors or ideological fervor," Myles said. He did not rule out a court challenge.

Supporters strongly dispute arguments that the bill will suppress turnout or registration, or affect poor and minority Kansans disproportionately.

Kobach said the measure was written to withstand court challenges. For example, one provision requires the state to issue a free photo ID to someone who needs one for voting.

Eight other states have photo ID laws, and a statute in Oklahoma takes effect July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though proposals have gained traction among legislators in nearly a dozen other states. Kobach said the Kansas law is stronger because it marries a photo ID provision to a proof-of-citizenship requirement and new rules for mail ballots.

"I think that really shows the rest of the country what you can do," Kobach said. "If you want to have the top-shelf model — if you want to have the Cadillac of voter security measures — the Kansas model is the way to go."

Legislators delayed the proof-of-citizenship rule for a year to give the state time to educate prospective voters and get a planned system for scanning citizenship documents of people seeking driver's licenses up and running, so the documents can be provided electronically to election officials.

Myles said the delay makes the proof-of-citizenship rule more acceptable to his group, but Kobach hasn't given up on legislators passing a follow-up bill to put the requirement in effect next year, as he proposed.

To bolster his arguments that election fraud is a serious issue in Kansas, Kobach released a study in January that said his office had received 59 reports of alleged irregularities involving at least 221 ballots since 1997.

Some allegations were based on vague reports of potential wrongdoing; most hadn't been thoroughly investigated, and relatively few were pursued by prosecutors. Critics contend many perceived irregularities boil down to mistakes by prospective voters and even election officials themselves, not deliberate fraud.

"To say the response to that should be a radical restructuring of the entire voting system is ridiculous," Myles said.

Myles added that even in a handful of cases where non-U.S. citizens were alleged to have cast ballots, the allegations don't suggest they tried to impersonate someone else.

"How is the solution — how is it remotely tied to the problems?" he said.

But Kobach said the changes will discourage attempts at fraud. He said the number of past allegations are significant because local and some legislative elections are decided by a few votes.

"There's no reason we should have any voter fraud in the state at all," he said.

Election fraud legislation is HB 2067.

Comments

ks1950 2 years, 12 months ago

"The secretary of state suggested the legislation made the most significant changes in state election laws in a century. "The biggest change before this would have been, of course, the granting of the right to vote to women," he said. Kansas granted equal voting rights to women in 1912." Glad Secretary of State Kobach left the door open on this one. Wouldn't it be better to just repeal the 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, 26th Amendments and the Voting Rights Act of 1965? That would get Kansas back to the 19th century. If we went all the way back to the 16th century Governor Brownback might have an issue. No wait . . . . was Kansas a state in the 16th century? Just let them keep talking. Enough rope yet? LOL

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dogsandcats 2 years, 12 months ago

I am as liberal as liberal can be and thus, loathe Kobach and his buddies, but I have no problem with showing ID to vote. I was actually kind of shocked when I moved here from another state and found out that you don't have to show ID to vote. What is the problem with showing ID to vote? I have to show ID at my own bank to cash a check with my own name on it.

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BigAl 2 years, 12 months ago

I have no problem showing my ID to vote. None. I do have a problem with the completely false reason that we now have to show ID. Kobach STILL hasn't demonstrated that there is voter fraud in Kansas. Some of you lemmings bought his line completely.

Besides, I thought it was the right-wingers that always wanted less government intrusion in our lives?

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Stu Clark 2 years, 12 months ago

I just voted in California. I was not asked for an ID. The poll workers looked up my name in their book and I signed it. When I mentioned the pending Kansas law, they said that they were specifically told NOT to ask for ID unless the voter had become inactive by not voting the last major election.

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prospector 2 years, 12 months ago

"Ballot with tracking numbers"

Do you know how bad that tramples on the Constitution? Biosolids!

Let's just all raise our hand, but keep your eyes closed.

The law sucks.

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Joe Hyde 2 years, 12 months ago

In previous elections that I've voted in, I've always had my drivers license (photo ID) at the ready, fully expecting to be asked to display it, but I never got asked. To me it would have been common sense for the people who operate voting places to ask folks for personal identification before handing them a blank ballot.

However, it could be the methodology they used that made seeing my photo ID unnecessary. The individual ballots are pre-numbered, you get assigned a specific ballot number when they check your name off their list of registered voters. With that system, if an identity question had come up their tracking method would have let my "stolen" ballot be found and destroyed (if, for example, another person had come in ahead of me claiming to be me, then voted using my ballot). After showing my photo ID to prove my identity I would still get to vote; I'd be handed another blank ballot with a new tracking number, and whomever tried to steal my vote would fail in their attempt.

So although I always expected to be asked for my photo ID at a polling place, I don't see how making everyone display one as a matter of routine will improve the security of our state's voting system above the excellent level at which it has long operated. No doubt the people who staff voting places have long had the option of asking to see a person's photo ID if there was ever a question of legitimacy.

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jimmyjms 2 years, 12 months ago

""There's no reason we should have any voter fraud in the state at all," he said."

We don't. So...more government regulation? I thought that was anathema to the GOP?

Let's see some verified "voter fraud." We'll wait.

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jimmyjms 2 years, 12 months ago

""There's no reason we should have any voter fraud in the state at all," he said."

We don't. So...more government regulation? I thought that was anathema to the GOP?

Let's see some verified "voter fraud." We'll wait.

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William Weissbeck 3 years ago

This has very little to do with voter fraud. Non-citizens aren't going to expose themselves to scrutiny by showing up at polling place. There aren't enough "Acorn" types in the state to fill up the back seat of a VW Bug. What this does is restrict those too poor or unaware to renew their driver's licenses (because they are too poor or too old to drive or own a car). And it will prevent those whose licenses have been suspended or revoked and who are unable or unaware as to how to have those licenses reinstated. It's a hold down the poor and minority voters law. Now if Kobach was being honest, he's ask for a law that permitted photo ID on someone's food stamp, Medicare or Medicaid card, and allow those as acceptable forms of identification.

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Jimo 3 years ago

"Why would people object to this?"

Well, because "problem" voters - blacks, Hispanics, anyone who appears likely to be insufficiently politically correct, will be scrutinized with a microscope, while the more typical white voter will be waived right on through. ("No, no, folks, put your IDs away. I know you're good .... Hey, boy! Where's your ID? ... Good morning ladies. Take a ballot and go right on through .....Boy, this says you live on Oak Street. What do you mean you moved over here? I'm not accepting any ID that shows you living in another precinct. Get moving or I'm calling security! )

This is the precise type of event that led to banning literacy tests. Partly illiterate white voters were never challenged while black voters needed to be Shakespeare scholars to be judged adequately literate. (Imagine today if there was a literacy test - how would Fox viewers ever pass?)

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TimW 3 years ago

From the bill....

"any voter whose religious beliefs prohibit photographic identifica- tion. Any person seeking an exemption under this provision must complete and transmit a declaration concerning such religious beliefs to the county election officer or the Kansas secretary of state. The declaration form shall be available on the official website of the Kansas secretary of state."

Now, I'm happy this clause is included so that our Amish friends (does any other group fit into this?) may continue to participate in the Democratic process, but I'm just going to guess that these folks don't do a lot of internetting, maybe we can make the form available someplace else?

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Betty Bartholomew 3 years ago

The photo ID part of things doesn't bother me, particularly since there's a provision for IDs to be provided to those who need them (this article is the first I'd heard of that). When I lived in California - not exactly a bastion of right-wing ideology - you showed your ID, they checked the register to make sure you were on it, handed you a ballot, you made your choices in the little booth, and dropped the ballot in the box. It really wasn't that big of a deal since it was just used to verify you were the person on the list.

The proof of citizenship thing, though... I think that's where it will get hung up in court, even though the list of acceptable forms of proof is rather comprehensive. It's fine and dandy for them to say that Kansas residents can apply for and receive a copy of their birth certificate at no charge when used to meet voting regulations. However, what about people that weren't born in Kansas? I'm assuming they'll still have to pay their state of birth to get the documentation, which isn't always cheap, depending on the state, and that's where the disenfranchisement argument will really come into play. I'll be interested to see what happens.

I also have to wonder at the constitutionality of somebody having to go through a hearing with the election board to determine whether the proof they can submit is substantive enough to replace the "officially acceptable" types of proof they may not have.

btw: current copy of the bill at http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/year1/measures/documents/hb2067_enrolled.pdf

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Kontum1972 3 years ago

Original name: Köbach geographical location: Rhein-Sieg-Kreis, Koln, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, Europe ...

another little corporal...mb?

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Kontum1972 3 years ago

Abe Lincoln was a republican...and a southern sympathizer shot him from behind.

Go figure!

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Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

"When a place gets crowded enough to require ID’s, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere." (From the "Notebooks of Lazarus Long", part of "Time Enough for Love" by Robert Heinlen, 1973.)

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autie 3 years ago

is sthis the birth of the new cottage industry? Proof of citzenship on sale now...get yours while the last....he said he would create jobs and stimulate the economy.

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TomJoad23 3 years ago

What is Next? Literacy test?

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laughingatallofu 3 years ago

Mr. Kobach wrote this law to pole-vault over a mouse turd. The sad part about it was that he used fear as an instrument to convince enough dim-witted legislators to go along with this ruse. Now, the taxpayers of Kansas are going to have to spend how many dollars in court defending the constitutionality of this law---you just know that someone is going to challenge it. For what? A non-existent problem that this clown dreamt up while high on himself. He is truly a legend in his own mind. The good news is that, until it's struck down, we'll get to actually see how small of a mouse turd voter fraud really is in Kansas. Oh sure, a couple of people are going to get caught, and it's going to make the headlines, and Mr. Kobach is going to be standing there like a proud peacock, puffing out his chest and showing off his feathers, along with the other dim-wits who think this is a good thing. Losers, the whole lot of 'em!

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tange 3 years ago

Myopic, opulent, co-opted photo ID photo op.

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ebyrdstarr 3 years ago

How are registration drives going to work if first-time registrants have to show proof of citizenship? This bill just made it a whole lot tougher to register to vote. No one will be able to register as they're running their errands at the mall or the grocery store or the county fair. But, gee, this proposal wasn't about suppressing voter turnout, now was it?

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ibroke 3 years ago

Well it looks like kobachs bill hit a nerve all the complainers must not be legal voters ----great job Kris!!!

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ivalueamerica 3 years ago

How much money is the state going to spend during this time of fiscal crisis defending this bill?

I assert a smarter, more brave leader could find a way to address the situation without subverting the Constitution and making his lawyer friends very wealthy.

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tunahelper 3 years ago

what an AWESOME day, Thank you Governor Brownback! Thank you for standing up to the leftist socialists who want to destroy our great Republic! Now all you progressives can pack your bags and get the heck out of Kansas. What a great day in Kansas!

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Roland Gunslinger 3 years ago

"For example, one provision requires the state to issue a free photo ID to someone who needs one for voting."

I think this was the one thing I was worried about. As long as someone doesn't have to pay to get the required documentation to vote I'm happy. I hope it applies to birth certificates as well. While I still think it's a non-issue and not needed I'll "shut up and color" as long as it doesn't lower voter turnout or registration.

Thanks for adding this provision in.

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tomatogrower 3 years ago

At the next election I am going to bring my passport, birth certificate, drivers license, library card, and any other ID I can think of, plop it down and yell "Heil Kobach!". Let's start a movement. How many of you are willing to do the same?

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arlo 3 years ago

I have to show photo ID to go to the fricken doctor, I don't think having to show it to vote is that far of a stretch....

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WHY 3 years ago

Ummm, look, I'm more liberal than the next guy but if you can't produce an I.D. then maybe you should not have a say in elections. This is not a high bar to pass and if they required a quick civics test for your vote to count I would be OK with that too.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years ago

Kobach has cobbled up this non-existant problem in his usual fervor to make his insignificant self more visible to the public. Brown back is in the same mold. Making laws for problems that do not exist. Yet, Kansans continue to seek jobs, locate affordable housing and educational opportunities that are presently available to the rich. Is this the purpose of government?? Ask your representaives. I think that the elected Governer and whatever Koback is are malingering on the job and ought to be impeached for theft of taxpeyer monies.

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UNIKU 3 years ago

I think Kobach is a right wing nutjob overall but...I don't have a problem with this at all. I like it. Why would people object to this -- unless you are trying to skirt the voting laws.

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Flap Doodle 3 years ago

We'll come down to the bus station to wave bye-bye, sad.

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overthemoon 3 years ago

so is a 'certificate of live birth' going to be acceptable or are they going to question the citizenship of anyone who isn't of white anglo saxon descent?

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strongarmcrunch 3 years ago

If Koback was really concerned about voting fraud, he would open the voting certification process to public scrutiny. AND he would demand open software on the voting machines.

But woe is me, he is not that concerned about voter fraud.

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IgnorantYokel 3 years ago

I'm curious to know how this will affect advance voting.

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sad_lawrencian 3 years ago

Second, I love how Brownback and many of these other Kansas GOP leaders in the class of 2010/11 ran on messages of "less government" and "fewer rules and regulations", when in reality all they're doing is imposing new laws and restrictions on everything they can get their hands on.

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sad_lawrencian 3 years ago

Moving to a different state soon. No more Kansas, Kansas government, GOP domination, etc. Life will be sweet!

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