After hearing two days of arguments on the voter ID bill championed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections considered another bill characterized by its author as “voter ID light.”
Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka said she wrote Senate Bill 222 in response to what she perceives as problems with Kobach’s plan. She said the state needs a more “common sense approach.”
“Kansas voters want secure elections, but they want a voter ID policy that solves the problems without suppressing the right to vote,” she said.
Mah, the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Elections, chose to go to the Senate with her bill because the House passed Kobach’s proposal, contained in House Bill 2067, on Feb. 25.
The committee will consider Mah’s proposal on Wednesday, said Sen. Terrie Huntington, R-Fairway, chair of the committee.
Mah’s proposal would not grant the secretary of state’s office the power to prosecute cases of voter fraud. It instead leaves that job where it is under current law, with districyt attorneys.
Mah would require voters to show identification at the poll, but non-photo IDs, including utility bills and pay stubs, would suffice. Kobach’s plan would have to offer free IDs to those who can’t afford them.
Mah called the Kobach plan’s heightened requirements to prove citizenship for registration “the elephant in the room.”
She wants to keep first-time registrants from having to show proof of citizenship. She said requiring a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization document would be too burdensome and would inhibit voter registration drives.
She said for the time being, a drivers license number, non-driver ID number, or last four digits of social security number would have to suffice until new integrated computer systems allow the secretary of state’s office to cross-check documents with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
– Todd Fertig