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Voter ID Push Poised For Success After Kentucky House Vote

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Both chambers of the Kentucky General Assembly have approved new voter ID requirements, leaving the reforms well-positioned for final approval. 

Under the measure, slated for implementation before the November elections, voters would be required to show a photo ID or display select forms of non-photo ID and sign an affirmation.

Opponents pleaded with the bill's supporters to reconsider, arguing it would disenfranchise low-income, minority, disabled, and elderly voters. 

"The 15th Amendment doesn't say you have a right to vote unless you have an ID. It says you have a right. Let's honor that right," said Charles Booker, a Democrat from Louisville who is running for U.S. Senate.

But proponents maintained the measure is about ensuring election integrity.

"My support for Senate Bill 2 is not about an attempt to suppress somebody's vote," Rep. James Tipton told colleagues. "I want everybody to vote, but I want every vote to be secure."

Discussion of election year politics often spilled into the floor debate, with Democrats more than hinting that they see the bill as favorable to Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign. GOP representatives said the bill reflects the will of the voters, who elected Republican and voter ID advocate Michael Adams to the state's Secretary of State post.

Gov. Andy Beshear sounded like a solid no vote Tuesday morning, telling reporters, "It's those that are too often marginalized that are impacted first. I would like to think at the 55th anniversary of Selma, we would make voting easier and not harder."

The governor was part of a Sunday march in Frankfort commemorating the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Senate Bill 2 won passage in the House on a 62-35 vote, suggesting the voter ID law could survive a gubernatorial veto. It now goes back to the Senate to approve changes made in the House.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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