Republicans call for law requiring voter ID
Democrats fear law would disenfranchise poor, elderly; Supreme Court sees otherwise
Topeka ? Emboldened by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Republicans on Monday called for passage of a law in Kansas to require that people have a photo ID to vote.
In a 6-3 decision, the court upheld Indiana’s photo identification requirement.
Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh praised the ruling, saying such laws protect against voter fraud.
“Voter identification is critical to the security of the electoral process,” Thornburgh said, and he also urged Kansas legislators to pass a similar law.
But Democrats have opposed such proposals, saying they would suppress turnout of elderly, low-income and minority voters because those groups would be the most likely not to have the necessary ID.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, vetoed a photo ID bill in 2003, and has noted there has been little evidence of voter fraud in Kansas’ recent history. Under Kansas law, the only time a person must show ID to vote is if the person is a new voter in the county. And the ID doesn’t have to include a photo.
But Republicans hold substantial majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, and may try to push through another voter ID bill when they return for the wrap-up session Wednesday.
Writing for the majority in the Indiana case, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said the law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with the outcome.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented. Souter said the Indiana law “threatens to impose nontrivial burdens on the voting rights of tens of thousands of the state’s citizens.”