Senate committee advances bill addressing forms of voter ID

January 25, 2024 | 12:10 am

Updated January 24, 2024 | 11:18 pm

Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, testifies on Senate Bill 80 during Wednesday’s meeting of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. | Photo by KY LRC

The Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday advanced a measure that would disqualify certain identification cards as acceptable forms of voter ID. Senate Bill 80 would omit student or employee identification cards and credit or debit cards from a list of acceptable documents voters can use at polls to verify their identities.

Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, is the primary sponsor of the bill, which received approval from the committee with a 9-2 vote. In her testimony, she called current election laws convoluted and disorganized.

“Currently, every other document on this particular list is a government-issued document, or it includes at least more than a name, for example a photograph,” she said. “And the credit card only has a name.”

Southworth said it’s vital that voters confirm their addresses so poll workers can ensure they are on the voter rolls.

She said student IDs are not appropriate as a primary source of identification for voting purposes because students often live elsewhere and have a right to absentee voting. However, with government-issued identification cards, holders generally have to swear an oath or adhere to an ethics code, for example, she said.

Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong, D-Louisville, said the measure could make it more difficult for some people to vote and that she hasn’t seen any evidence that such forms of ID are more likely to result in fraud. She voted against the measure.

“My understanding is that the board of elections is not asking for this. I haven’t heard the secretary of state asking for this. I’m a little worried this is a solution in search of a problem,” she said.

Southworth said it’s the legislature’s duty to decide what its members do.

“We decide what we want, and it’s their job to do this. It’s not their job to tell us how we need to do our job. And I feel like that’s a big, important thing that people usually lose,” she said.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, voted in favor of the bill. He noted that voter ID cards are available without charge at local county clerks’ offices.

“I’ve always thought that these other forms of ID shouldn’t be acceptable at the polls, and I think it’s a good bill, very straightforward,” he said.

The bill now advances to the Senate for consideration.

Information from the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

January 25, 2024 | 12:10 am

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