Kentucky Senate Bill 2 would require photo ID for voter identification

Legislation that would strengthen voter identification requirements has been advancing steadily in the Kentucky Senate. Senate Bill 2 would require every voter to present photo ID when they arrive at the polling place on Election Day.

The bill was introduced on January 7 with 12 sponsors, led by Senator Robby Mills, R-Henderson, and Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown.

Senate Bill 2 was referred to the Committee on State & Local Government on January 8. There, two hearings were held on the proposal, and it was reported favorably to the Rules with Committee on January 22, with an amendment.

As amended, the act would deem acceptable an expired photo ID.

Update: The measure cleared the Senate by a 29-9 vote on January 23. This was only after a lengthy debate that divided the chamber along party lines. The bill now heads to the Kentucky House of Representatives, where the GOP holds a commanding 60-37 majority.

Existing legal code in Kentucky requires identification, but not photo ID. As a legacy from a more informal era, voters do not have to present identification if the poll worker recognizes them and can attest to their identity.

If a voter show up without photo ID, they would be able to present an alternative form of ID and affirm, under the penalty of perjury, that they are eligible to vote. Alternative forms of ID would include Social Security cards and credit cards.

They would also have to sign a statement explaining which reasonable impediment prevented them from getting a photo ID. An example would be inability to afford the documents required to obtain ID.

A voter without photo ID could cast a provisional ballot, which involves placing their ballot in a separate envelope. The voter would have to visit the county clerk’s office after Election Day and fill out an affidavit explaining why they don't have photo ID.

Under SB-2, state-issued ID cards for individuals who are at least 18 and do not have a valid driver’s license would be provided for free. The state-issued ID currently costs $30.

Lexington-based ABC 36 covered testimony in support of SB-2 by Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams. In that testimony the Secretary of State said the concept of photo ID can be traced back to a 2004 federal commission on election reform that was co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter.

Quoting the commission report, Michael Adams said Photo identification cards currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings and cash a check. Voting is equally important.

Senate Bill 2 will soon advance to the full Senate for consideration. If it becomes law, photo IDs would not be needed in the May primary elections in Kentucky but would become a requirement in time for the November 2020 general election.