Archive for Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kansas Senate panel modifies Kris Kobach’s voter ID bill

March 17, 2011, 10:56 a.m. Updated March 17, 2011, 1:31 p.m.


— A Kansas Senate committee endorsed an election fraud bill Thursday after members rewrote legislation from Secretary of State Kris Kobach to delay the proposed start of his plan to require anyone registering to vote in the state for the first time to prove they're citizens.

The Ethics and Elections Committee also stripped the measure of provisions Kobach sought to increase penalties for some election crimes and give the secretary of state's office the power to file and prosecute election fraud cases in state courts, along with the attorney general and county prosecutors.

But the committee kept intact a proposal from Kobach to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, starting next year. That provision would make Kansas the 10th state with a photo ID requirement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The proof-of-citizenship requirement would take effect in 2013, instead of 2012, as Kobach proposed. He argued postponing it would only delay an effective step for keeping non-citizens, including illegal immigrants, from registering.

But the rewritten bill, endorsed on a voice vote, had bipartisan support, while Democrats have opposed the Republican secretary of state's undiluted proposals, claiming they're likely to suppress registration numbers and voter turnout. The measure goes to the Senate for debate, probably next week.

"I think it's a piece of legislation that we can vote for," said Sen. Kelly Kultala, of Kansas City, one of two Democrats on the nine-member committee. "It's a good compromise."

The House approved the bill last month, voting 83-36 for a version Kobach fully endorsed, containing his voter photo-ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements starting next year, his tougher penalties for election crimes and prosecutorial authority for the secretary of state's office.

But after the Senate committee's meeting, Kobach took its changes in stride, saying the measure still contains the core of his proposals and will combat election fraud. Senators' action mean the final version of the bill is likely to be written by negotiators for the two chambers.

"I wouldn't say it's Kobach-lite. It's Kobach, minus a few critical components, but I wouldn't go as far as to say it's sugar-free just yet," the secretary of state said. "We're a long way from the final wording."

Kobach has said he wants to give Kansas the strongest laws against election fraud in the nation but says his proposals won't hurt registration numbers or turnout.

In January, he released a report that the secretary of state's office has received 59 reports of alleged irregularities involving at least 221 ballots since 1997 — twice as many as documented by an internal report three years ago. He suggested those reports represent perhaps only 10 percent of the irregularities that had actually occurred.

But critics contend many perceived irregularities boil down to mistakes by prospective voters and even election officials themselves, not deliberate fraud.

"I don't think there's voter fraud in the state of Kansas," Sen. Roger Reitz, a Manhattan Republican who cast the only vote against advancing the bill from committee, said after the meeting. "I don't know that we need to do all this."

Yet Kobach won last year's election with 59 percent of the vote after making election fraud his key campaign issues, and even some skeptical Democrats see widespread public support for requiring voters to show ID at the polls. Kultala said the Senate committee's version of the bill is acceptable because it provides for free photo IDs from the state.

But Kobach's critics still worry that the proof-of-citizenship requirement will hamper, if not eliminate, door-to-door registration drives or registration tables at libraries, malls and other public places. Kobach has sought to counter those fears by including provisions allowing people to submit their proof of citizenship, such as a copy of a birth certificate or passport, after their registration forms are turned in to election officials.

Kultala proposed the delay in the proof-of-citizenship requirement, saying an extra year would give the state more time to educate people. Also, she said, it would allow the Department of Revenue to 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.

But Kobach said the delay actually makes the job of educating people more complicated and potentially more costly and hinders efforts to keep voter registration rolls clean.


Bill Lee 4 years ago

Kris Kobach needs to post his birth certificate online.

overthemoon 4 years ago

Do you think they do birth certificates on whatever planet he came from?

kernal 4 years ago

What misterlee said; plus, his lineage to make sure he's not the offspring of illegals or born in Hawaii.

KSArtguy 4 years ago

Sour grapes to all that think this is infringing on some sort of right. This sort of measure is what is now required to combat those that operate outside the law. Poll workers know me but it is not an inconvenience to show my ID. You have to do the same when you use your credit card or write a check.

Jefferson_County 4 years ago

You might want to check your information on requiring a drivers license to use a credit card.

rvermer 4 years ago

I've had to show my ID several times at different places to use my credit card.

Jefferson_County 4 years ago

That doesn't mean the merchant isn't violating their merchant agreement with Visa, etc. Merchant rules from the credit card companies prohibit asking for additional ID if the card is signed. Your signature is all the ID you need to use a credit card. Unfortunately, trying to convince the person behind the counter that is not usually successful, but you can always file a complaint with the credit card company. The additional information from your drivers license combined with your credit card increases the chances someone who wants to can commit identity theft. I found this info on the Visa site once but don't have time to sort through their site right now. Google it and you'll find plenty of other sources that will tell you the same thing - hopefully one will be a site you deem legitimate.

notanota 4 years ago

I've used mine twice today without having to show ID.

notanota 4 years ago

Really? Just how many of these imaginary voters are coming in and voting every year? Got a number for us? How are you going to ask for an ID when I send my vote in absentee?

BTW, I don't have to do the same when I use a credit card. There are a few places that ask, but nearly every place accepts my credit card swipe and signature and calls it good. Just like voting places accept my name and signature on the line.

Orwell 4 years ago

Absolutely. What a crazy idea – that it's a right to vote in a democracy.

Next they'll probably claim there's a right to free speech.

Verdad 4 years ago

All candidates for elective office should be required to post their birth certificates online.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Before voting, I'd like to see voters pass a simple test. Can they correctly name the three branches of government and what their general function is (the judiciary interprets the laws, etc.). I'd like them to be able to correctly identify their congressperson and their two U.S. senators as well as who the current President and Vice-President are. I'd like to see if they could find the U.S. on a world map and find Kansas on a U.S. map. And let's throw in a tough one, the first amendment to the Constitution spells out which of freedoms? The greatest threat to our great democracy is apathy. We need to get a more informed electorate as well as just getting more people to vote. So give a $20 bill to everyone who answers the questions correctly and then votes (call it a stimulus).

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

P.S. Yes, I know it's probably unconstitutional, but I'd still like it.

notanota 4 years ago

Ah yes, literacy tests. That went so well the first time around.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Literacy tests as they were previously used were specifically designed to discriminate against certain groups. Those were abhorrent. My idea (and yes, I know it would be unconstitutional) would be to encourage education and reward people with money. I know it's a silly idea, kind of like hoping that all comments here would be made in a civil and respectful tone.
That said, let me ask a question because I'm curious about what people think the answer is; (your guess) What percentage of "voters" could correctly answer the questions I asked in my original post? My guess, and it's only a guess, would be about 50%.

notanota 4 years ago

We already encourage education and reward it with money. My job pays much more than the job I'd get if I didn't have the same level of education. Guess which groups are disproportionately less educated (and less wealthy) in this country?

Why would you want to further suppress voter turnout?

The goal of education is laudable, but it shouldn't be a pre-qualification for voting.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

O.K., just give everyone $20 to increase voter turnout (I really do want to see greater voter turnout). But if my 50% guess is even close to being correct, I'd be afraid of what we'd get. And really, knowing my suggestion is unconstitutional, it was made tongue in cheek, really.

jafs 4 years ago


But if we have uneducated, unintelligent people voting, then the results of elections will reflect that.

I wonder how many American citizens would pass the INS test given to immigrants.

Democracy works best when the vast majority of the population votes, but also when they are intelligent and well-informed.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"But if we have uneducated, unintelligent people voting, then the results of elections will reflect that.

You mean like the last election?

jafs 4 years ago

  1. I didn't say they shouldn't be allowed to vote - I said that democracy works best when people are intelligent and well informed.

  2. Thank you for a slow ball over home plate - but I won't make the obvious joke here.

  3. You seem, from a variety of your posts, to be a relativist - do you really believe there are no objective standards or criteria for anything?

CreatureComforts 4 years ago

All posters of LJ World should be required to post their IQs online

tomatogrower 4 years ago

I still don't understand? Is voter fraud the reason the Republicans keep on winning in Kansas?

overthemoon 4 years ago

Hahahaa!! That is the first question that should be answered before this bill comes to a vote. What about churches that bus their 'prepped' senior citizens to the polls?

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

I have asked this question (even on these boards) multiple times.

gudpoynt 4 years ago


First there was "Senate votes to save Kansas Arts Commission".

Then there was "Statehouse Live: Panel vote maintains law allowing in-state tuition for some undocumented students"

And then "Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback backs off change for Human Rights Commission"

And now the Ethics and Elections Committee rejected a Kobach proposal to let his office file and prosecute election fraud cases in state courts!

Rational voices in the GOP shining through, I applaud you.

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

More like they're scared of another Michigan.

tolawdjk 4 years ago

Remember, put your ID on the top of your hat when traveling in SE Kansas and you hear helicopters.

I wouldn't hurt to not say "oink" alot either. Definately not "el oink".

bevy 4 years ago

Glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read that. Keyboard splatter is BAD.

overthemoon 4 years ago

Just the kind of voter the Fox Party likes. Easily impressionable with fear mongering and lies repeated so often that their minions actually believe them.

rvermer 4 years ago

I can't believe all of you people that don't believe there is voter fraud going on in every state. Have you ever heard of Acorn? And all the dead people who have voted? It's a miracle that Republicans ever get elected to anything with all the cheating going on.

madameX 4 years ago

I've heard of all these things. I've also heard of vampires and werewolves. Doesn't mean I believe they're real.

rvermer 4 years ago

No they don't. Fox tells the truth and tells both sides. Unlike the other stations who don't even report some of the things that would make the Democrats look bad. I wonder if any of these people that say they lie have actually watched Fox. Obama and his administration are scared to death of them. That's why they are always running them down. Fox also has millions of more people watching than the other cable channels. You gotta love it. People are finally getting educated!

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

You need to get out a little more, ibroke. At least on the internet.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Oh vertigo, don't confuse them with facts. It gives them vertigo.

beatrice 4 years ago

Showing your ID at the time you place your vote -- okay. How exactly will this work on mail-in ballots? Why will one type of voter -- those who go to the polls -- be subjected to rules and regulations that do not effect other types of voter?

jafs 4 years ago

There are provisions for that, I believe.

And the word is "affect", not "effect", in your last sentence.

beatrice 4 years ago

Affect me? Affect you!

And sadly, it wasn't even a typo. I used the wrong word. C'est la vie.

So what provisions do they have for mail-in voting? I am curious. How do you show your ID if you are mailing in your ballot?

jafs 4 years ago

I don't remember the details, unfortunately, but I know that it was considered (which is good, since it's an obvious issue with this sort of legislation) and provisions were included for it.

Maybe a quick google search would find them.

tbaker 4 years ago

Sounds like a simple, common sense law to me. Whats the harm in being asked to produce an ID when you vote? I can't think of a more important time to verify your identitiy. You need it for a host of other, less-important things in life. The only people it affects are those intent on breaking the law. Its just a routine task for everyone else. I fail to see what all the fuss is about.

beatrice 4 years ago

Are you attempting to use your freedom of speech with this comment of yours? Let me see your ID.

That is the problem. Voting is a right. Lesser things are not. Why should people need to show their ID to practice their rights? Do you really need to have an ID to be a citizen?

The people it may hurt are those who may not drive and may not have a picture ID. Or people who have lost their ID. Looks like a way to sway votes now is to steal other peoples' purses and wallets just before an election. Imagine, losing your rights as a citizen just because you had your ID stolen. That is just one problem with this law.

All the fuss is over the stripping away of our rights, one little bit at a time.

Fred Mertz 4 years ago

I must not only show ID but submit to a criminal background check to exercise my 2nd amendment right to own a gun. Based on your comment above where you stated, "Why should people need to show their ID to practice their rights?" I would assume that you are opposed to showing ID and background checks to purchase and own a gun - am I correct in this asssumption? If not, why is it okay to require an ID for one right, but not another?

beatrice 4 years ago

To your last question, perhaps because a vote isn't the same as a bullet shot at your head.

However, you need to show your ID to get the gun just as you do to register to vote, but I ask you, must you show your ID to someone in order to have the gun in your possession? Must you show it if you are firing it on your own land (given it is outside of the city limits) or at a shooting range? Why can you shoot a gun without showing an official your ID, while voting requires the ID? Must you show your ID to practice freedom of speech?

barlowtl 4 years ago

If you do not drive you must apply for an ID which you pay for. Years ago that was called a poll tax & rulled unconstitutional. Of course if you really don't want the elderly & handicapped to vote, that's different. Voter suppression has always been the most effective form of voter fraud. But I bet just about everyone posting here already knew that.

Fred Mertz 4 years ago

Shepard Smith is anunbiasednews journalist.

Hannity is a biased (conservative) entertainer.

O'Reilly, while an entertainer does a good job at showing both sides.

Colmes is a biased (liberal) entertainer.

I'd say Fox is pretty fair and balanced.

notajayhawk 4 years ago

"The people it may hurt are those who may not drive and may not have a picture ID. Or people who have lost their ID. Looks like a way to sway votes now is to steal other peoples' purses and wallets just before an election. Imagine, losing your rights as a citizen just because you had your ID stolen. That is just one problem with this law."

Let's follow the - supposed - logic of your theory to the end, shall we?

Why do we even have to register to vote? Doesn't that create an obstacle, an undue burden? Why can't anyone just show up at the polls on election day, claim to be a citizen and a resident and an eligible voter and just vote? It's a right, for pete's sake, and this whole registration process is just an attempt to infringe on that right and disenfranchise countless thousands of people who don't have the means to register.

Orwell 4 years ago

It hasn't been so long since you could register and vote all at once. The republic survived.

The question now is whether additional restrictions would do more harm than good. Given the dearth of verifiable, objective support for Kobach's self-serving claims of rampant fraud, the burden should be on him to demonstrate his proposals would not deter more lawful voting than unlawful. Plainly to date he's only offered his own unsupported opinions.

It's Kobach's opinion that there is a lot of undocumented voter fraud. I have at least as much support for my opinion that this is a partisan effort to (1) self-promote an extremist political hack and (2) suppress legitimate voting that would tend to favor his opponents.

notajayhawk 4 years ago

Orwell (anonymous) replies…

"It hasn't been so long since you could register and vote all at once."

Did you have to prove who you were?

"The republic survived."

If that's the standard we're using, the republic survived a lot of things. Watergate, Tammany Hall - those things okay with you?

"I have at least as much support for my opinion that this is a partisan effort to (1) self-promote an extremist political hack and (2) suppress legitimate voting that would tend to favor his opponents."

As for number one, the same could be said for any politician, up to and including the sitting president.

As for number two, there are two slight problems: Voting is not suppressed by voter ID laws, and they affect everyone equally. Other than that, yeah, I guess you have a ton of support for your position.

"The question now is whether additional restrictions would do more harm than good."

The operative word there being "ADDITIONAL".

See, Orwell, those who are so vehemently opposed to voter ID laws are, whether they realize it or not, on the same side of the argument as Kobach. They recognize the potential for some voter fraud, they recognize the need for some restrictions and control, they accept the that some inconveniences and obstacles to voting are allowable, else they would be protesting equally as vehemently against the entire process of voter registration.

The only difference between that and voter ID laws is a matter of degree, not principle.

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