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Voter ID Bill Wins Approval in Kentucky Senate

A bill that would impose stricter voter identification requirements in Kentucky passed the state Senate on Thursday by a 29-9 vote.

All four Northern Kentucky senators voted in favor.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 2, would require a voter to present photographic identification at the poll. Kentucky already has a law that requires identification to vote, but it does not require photo IDs.

“When the law requires a photo ID be shown ... confidence is raised in the election process,” said Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, who sponsored the bill along with Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown. “This is very important these days when doubt is easily raised, when social media spreads rumors. Anything this body can do to increase the public’s confidence in the election process is well worth the time and money invested.”

Sen. Gerald A. Neal, D-Louisville, spoke in opposition of SB 2.

“It would seem to me that we would want to create a system that expands the voting process and doesn’t become more cumbersome,” he said. “We already know there are a significant number of people who don’t vote now. We want to encourage people to vote, not to discourage them to vote.”

Thayer spoke in favor of the bill.

“I want to debunk this red herring that a voter ID is going to suppress the vote,” he said. “There was a study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research that between 2008 and 2016 voter ID laws ‘had no negative effect on registration or turnout overall or for any specific group defined by race, gender, age or party affiliation.’”

If a voter does not have a photo ID, Thayer said the voter would be able to show another form of ID and affirm, under the penalty of perjury, that they are qualified to vote. Other acceptable IDs would include Social Security cards and credit cards.

A voter who comes to the polls with no ID would be able to cast a provisional ballot, a process involving filling out a separate envelope before casting a separate ballot. The ballot would not count unless the voter visited the county clerk’s office by the Friday after Election Day. That’s when the voter would have to fill out a separate affidavit explaining the reason for not having an ID.

Another provision of SB 2 would provide a free state-issued ID card for individuals who are at least 18 and do not have a valid driver’s license. It currently costs $30 for that ID.

SB 2 now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration. If the bill would become law, photo IDs would not be required for the May primary election but would be required for the November general election.

From the Legislative Research Commission

Photo: Sen. Robby Mills (R-Henderson) explaining Senate Bill 2, a photo voter ID measure (LRC)