FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill requiring voters to bring photo identification with them to the polls cleared the Kentucky Senate. Senate Bill 2 passed 29-9 along party lines Thursday.
It requires a photo ID at the polls on election day, but it also removes the cost to obtain a government-issued ID.
Social Security cards and credit or debit cards will also be accepted, and if someone does not have a photo ID with them on election day, they can file a provisional ballot. They would have to follow up with the county clerk within three days for their vote to count.
State Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, sponsors the bill and said it will raise confidence in the electoral process.
“This is very important these days when doubt is easily raised when social media spreads rumors,” Mills said. “Anything that we can do, this body can do, to increase the public’s confidence in the election process is well worth the time and money invested.”
Opponents of the bill say there have been no reported instances of in-person voter fraud in Kentucky and this bill is trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.
Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, said the bill would only put obstacles in the way of people voting. He also criticized lawmakers, including Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who said they were trying to get ahead of the problem of in-person voter fraud.
“22 percent of Kentucky’s kids are living in poverty, but we’re not advancing any legislation to discuss raising our minimum wage to a living wage,” McGarvey said. “477 Kentuckians killed themselves with a firearm last year. We’re not discussing an extreme risk protection order that would have saved their lives. A million Kentuckians are pre-diabetic. Many died last year because they couldn’t afford their insulin. But we haven’t passed a bill to go towards that life-saving drug and reducing its cost. There are zero instance of voter fraud, so why are we talking about it?”
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, shot back at criticisms over the bill.
“Last time I looked, and I’ve dealt with all my children, my nine grandchildren, you’re required to get a social security card within the first year of your life,” Stivers said. “Everybody has one now. So some people are wanting to say this is a suppression of people to vote. And there are no reported instances of in-person voter fraud. Just because it’s not reported didn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
The bill is expected to cost $3.6 million to implement, although that could be reduced to just $365,000 if only registered voters get a free photo ID.
The proposal now moves to the House.