Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew preparing for voter ID law to go into effect

A new state law designed to prevent voter fraud will require voters to bring valid photo identification to the polls next year.

But anyone who forgets won’t be shut out.

“If you don’t have one, you can still cast a provisional ballot,” said Jamie Shew, Douglas County clerk. “You’re not going to be turned away from the polls.”

Communicating such information widely and clearly will be essential leading up to elections in August 2012, Shew said, as counties work to enact the new voter ID rules, implement redistricting and handle large numbers of voters for local, state and national races.

Shew is in New Jersey this week, soaking up training, information and strategies during a meeting of the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers.

Of particular use is meeting with election officials from Indiana and other states where voter ID laws already are in effect, he said. The key is to focus on public education, so that voters understand what they need to do to vote.

In Kansas, that will mean bringing a valid, government-issued photo ID — such as a driver’s license, a passport, a college student ID — to the correct polling place. Without an ID, a voter still can cast a provisional ballot and then bring the valid ID to the clerk’s office by Thursday of the week that follows Election Day.

Shew is seeking financing through the county budget to send out a mailer to registered voters, likely to cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.

Still to be determined: how election officials will require photo IDs for people requesting to vote by mail. That’s among the issues to be discussed by a new task force appointed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is working on regulations for implementing the law.

Shew is among 18 local election officials on the task force, which met for the first time Tuesday. And while Shew wasn’t there — he’s still in New Jersey, where he’s staying with relatives while at the conference — he’s busy preparing for future task force meetings.

“How these rules and regulations are set out will really impact Douglas County,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to have a seat at the table.”