TOPEKA | The Kansas Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on Thursday passed a weakened version of Secretary of State Kris Kobachâ€™s bill to require a photo ID and proof of citizenship for voters.
Senators stripped HB 2067 of provisions that would have given Kobach the authority to criminally prosecute allegations of voter fraud. The committee also voted to delay until 2013 the start date at which new voters will have to provide proof of citizenship when they register.
Kobach said the action virtually ensured that photo ID will be required when voters go to the polls or send in absentee ballots in 2012.
â€œSome version of this bill is going to pass,â€ he said. â€œWe probably arenâ€™t yet to the final language of the bill.â€
He said the removal of the prosecutorial power was a procedural move so that the bill wouldnâ€™t have to go through the Judiciary Committee on its way to the Senate floor. He said that provision could be added again through floor amendments or in a House-Senate conference committee.
However, he had strong objections to the committeeâ€™s decision to push back by a year the date at which new registrants will have to provide a birth certificate, passport, tribal ID card or other proof of citizenship. He said that would complicate the process of educating county election officials and voters on the new requirements.
Kobach also said that it would give non-citizens an extra year to sneak onto voting rolls â€” and that itâ€™s much harder to get them off than to keep them from getting on.
Sen. Kelly Kultala, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat, said she proposed the amendment to give the Department of Motor Vehicles time to implement its plan to begin collecting and imaging license applicantsâ€™ citizenship documents.
The bill passed on a voice vote, with only Sen. Roger Reitz, a Manhattan Republican, recording his opposition. After the meeting, Reitz said he thought the measure would make voting too difficult for many citizens and decrease voter turnout. He also said Kobachâ€™s assertions of widespread voter fraud were greatly exaggerated.
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