Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach recently stopped in Pittsburg, Kanass, to explain the controversial new voter ID law in that state. Under the law, the Secure and Fair Elections Act, there are three requirements for voters to cast their ballots. First, voters will need to present government-issued photo ID in order to voter. Secondly, those who opt for advance voting through absentee ballot to submit to righter scrutiny. Finally, the law requires voters who have not registered before to show valid proof of US citizenship.
The Secure and Fair Elections Act promises to stop voter fraud, but Kobach says that the laws still makes it easy for qualified voters to cast their ballots. The law went into effect in January 2012, making Kansas the first to pass a voter ID law with the three requirements. Nine states have passed some form of voter ID law since 2010, including Rhode Island, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Some states have face problems in getting the laws passed. In Texas and South Carolina, for example, the US Justice Department has not passed the voter ID laws, leading those states to sue.
Some disagree with the new voter ID laws. The Missouri Supreme Court decided in 2006 that then-proposed voter ID laws were unconstitutional. This year, many experts claim that voter ID laws may disqualify up to 10% of qualified voters. Many Democrats, for example, argue that minorities and the disenfranchised may not have government-issued ID and may not have the money to secure such ID before election. Many supporters of the laws, including many Republicans, claim that voter ID laws are needed to ensure that only qualified voters can vote.
Kobach and others noted that there have been 235 documented instances of voter fraud in Kansas and in other states there have been documented cases of people using fake identities to register to vote. Kobach also states that in Kansas elections voter turnout has been higher than the average since the law was passed. He credits the law with that, stating that it makes people eager to vote by improving voter confidence in the system. He also noted that there is a variety of photo IDs that are acceptable identification for voters. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license, a handgun license, US passport, school ID, an employee badge, Indian tribal ID, public assistance card, or military identification document. Any government-issued photo ID from any county, city, state, or federal office is also acceptable.