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Lawmakers Override Veto of Voter ID Bill, Will Be in Effect in November

The Kentucky General Assembly voted Tuesday to override a veto of legislation that will impose stricter voter identification requirements across the state, starting with the general election in November.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 2, will require voters to present photographic identification at the polls.

“2020 is an important election year with many federal and state races,” Sen. Robby Mills (R-Henderson) said before the Senate voted 27-6 to override the governor’s veto of SB 2. “The most recent elections in Kentucky have shown just how important a handful of votes are and how even one illegal vote ... could change the outcome of an election.”

The House of Representatives followed with a 60-29 vote to override.

Another provision of SB 2 will 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.

House Minority Whip Angie Hatton (D-Whitesburg) explained her opposition to SB 2.

“Not only are clerks’ offices closed at this time as we battle the coronavirus in this state, but we also just voted to move to 12 regional offices our ability to get a driver’s license,” she said in reference to legislation to ensure Kentucky’s compliance with the REAL ID Act. “For my people, that means driving at least an hour and a half.”

House Speaker David Osborne (R-Prospect) defended the override vote.

“There have been many comments made about this not being the time to debate the issue, and I’ll concede that,” he said, adding that the time was March 3 when SB 2 was originally passed. Osborne said the reason the bill was being debated today was because the governor vetoed it.

Sen. Reginald Thomas (D-Lexington) said SB 2 addressed a problem that didn’t exist. He added that there is no evidence of in-person voter fraud during modern times in Kentucky.

“The American way is to encourage voting, not deter it,” Thomas said. “This bill will certainly deter people from voting.”

Mills said SB 2 just adds safeguards to the integrity of Kentucky’s elections. If a voter does not have a photo ID, Mills said the voter will be able to show another form of ID and affirm, under the penalty of perjury, that they are qualified to vote. The bill will also allow poll workers to affirm, in writing, that they personally know a voter who has no form of ID.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) cited the high number of people who remain on Kentucky’s voter rolls after moving away or dying, as a reason a voter photo ID law is needed in Kentucky.

“In an era where six House races were decided by single digits two years ago, it is important that everybody who attempts to vote to prove that they are who they say they are,” said Thayer, who also sponsored SB 2.

As House members discussed the bill, Osborne added that the number of registered voters in 41 of Kentucky’s 120 counties outnumbered the total population of those counties.

From the Legislative Research Council 

Photo: Sen. Damon Thayer talks about SB2 on Tuesday (LRC)