House Passes Bill Requiring Kentucky Voters to Have Photo ID

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentuckians are one step closer to needing a photo ID to vote.

After a lengthy debate a bill requiring Kentuckians to bring a photo ID to the polls passed the Kentucky House. The modified version included several changes from the original version and the version that passed out of a House committee two weeks.

House Floor Amendment 40 allows people to vote without a photo ID if the poll workers recognizes them, the poll worker would be required to fill out an affirmation form similar to what voters without ID’s are required to use.

Another change removes wording from reasonable impediment list dealing with birth certificates, removing the word cost and instead replacing it with lack of obtaining a birth certificate. Finally, it removes provisional voting from state elections.

“House floor amendment 40 came about as result of a lot of discussion between Secretary Adams and the county clerks they agreed I have letters from county clerks they agreed,” said Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville. “That with this floor amendment they are supportive of the bill.”

Despite new support from county clerks opponents argued the bill would suppress votes.

“To all of those in Kentucky who are listening who will try and fail to vote in November, I’m sorry this is happening to do you,” said Minority Whip Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Whitesburg. “I’m sorry that you are going to feel that your vote doesn’t matter especially if you are poor, female, not white or just elderly.”

Other opponents argued this is a solution in a search of a problem.

“Here we find us once again taking a sledgehammer to kill a gnat,” said Minority Floor Leader Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville. “What we heard in committee is that the incident of in person voter fraud is less than minuscule.”

However supporters maintained this is about keeping elections safe.

“My support for Senate Bill 2 is not about an attempt to suppress somebody’s vote,” Tipton said. “I want everybody to vote, but I want every vote to be secure, I want every vote to be accurate, I want every person who is entitled to vote to have that opportunity.”

Under Senate Bill 2, Kentuckians would have to present a photo ID to vote, if they are unable to afford one they would be able to obtain one free of charge from the state.

The estimated cost for those ID’s is around $350,000 but opponents say that number is actually much higher. The ACLU of Kentucky says Indiana paid a lot more to provide ID’s than that.

Voters would be allowed to use a social security or credit or debit card instead of a photo ID as long as they sign a voter affirmation statement identifying a “reasonable impediment” to having a photo ID, that statement would go to the Commonwealth’s and county attorneys for review.

Those impediments include lack of transportation, inability to afford a copy of a birth certificate or other documents needed to show proof of identification, work schedule, lost or stolen ID, disability or illness, family responsibilities, proof an ID has been applied for but not yet obtained, or religious exception to being photographed.

The bill now heads back to the Senate to final approval.