Kansas took a giant leap backwards this week by enacting one of the harshest voter ID laws in the country. Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill into law Monday that will require voters to present photo ID at the polls as well as proof of citizenship in order to register. Kansas has joined a small group of outliers in passing such a retrograde law. Thirty-two state legislatures have introduced similar photo ID bills this year in what appears to be a nationwide coordinated effort to erect new barriers to voting. Only two other states in the union—Indiana and Georgia—refuse to hand a regular ballot to a voter who lacks photo ID without exception or alternative.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, well-known as the principal author of Arizona’s extreme racial profiling law, S.B. 1070, was the driving force behind this legislation. Kobach’s voter ID law undermines our country’s strides in expanding the fundamental right to vote to be more inclusive of historically marginalized groups like racial minorities, low-income voters, the disabled, and senior citizens. Kobach claims that requiring ID is necessary in order to combat widespread voter registration by undocumented immigrants in Kansas.
Yet, no such evidence has ever been presented to support his claims of rampant fraud. In fact, records released in 2009 revealed only seven cases of alleged electoral fraud—only one of which was prosecuted—in the previous five years.