Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew is going the extra mile to help voters meet new photo ID requirements.
He announced last week that his office has set up a system that will allow residents to obtain valid photo ID cards in the clerk’s office rather than having to endure lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles office. The service, which will begin operating today, will be free to any registered voter in the county who doesn’t already have a driver’s license or other ID. To obtain an ID, voters need to bring one of the “residency documents” defined in federal law. That can be a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or other government-issued document that includes a name and address.
The system also is designed to be mobile, Shew said, which will allow staff members to take it to nursing homes or other locations to serve residents who would find it difficult to travel either to the clerk’s office or the DMV to obtain an ID.
We don’t know how many other county clerks in Kansas have made similar outreach efforts, but Shew deserves the community’s thanks for implementing a system that should help more people meet the new photo ID requirement. Hopefully, similar efforts will be made to help accommodate the new law that takes effect Jan. 1, requiring people registering to vote in Kansas for the first time to show proof of citizenship. Perhaps some system can be established that not only allows the clerk’s office to register voters at various locations but preserves the ability of groups like the League of Women Voters to conduct voter registration drives.
Voting is a basic right in a democracy. According to their supporters, the state’s new election laws are needed to protect the integrity of elections and prevent voter fraud. While it’s important to keep illegal voters out of the process, it’s at least as important to make sure qualified voters continue to have a voice.