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FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Before Kentucky lawmakers halted their work Thursday until March 26 because of coronavirus concerns, they sent to Gov. Andy Beshear a controversial bill that would require a government-issued photo ID to vote.

Members of the House and Senate held a conference committee to iron out differences between their two versions of Senate Bill 2. Both chambers then approved it Thursday night, said Miranda Combs, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Michael Adams, who pushed the measure.

Adams, in a statement Friday, said, "I ran for this office to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. While we're taking steps to make it easy to vote and ensure a successful primary election, we cannot lose sight of the importance of ballot integrity. That's why we need this law to require a photo ID to vote in Kentucky's elections."

The Republican official said the bill's final version included numerous accommodations, made over months of negotiation and received bipartisan support in the chambers.

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The final bill provides that, starting with the November election, a voter must produce a photo ID, with limited exceptions.

A voter who owns a photo ID but does not possess it can vote by provisional ballot and later produce a photo ID so that the provisional ballot cast will be counted -- or, if the voter is recognized by a poll worker, the voter may vote if the poll worker executes a written affirmation of personal recognition.

To ensure no one is disenfranchised, said Adams, the bill provides for a person without a photo ID to get one for free, and if the voter still cannot obtain a photo ID because of a hardship, the voter may cast a ballot regardless by showing a non-photo ID and signing a "reasonable impediment" affidavit.

On Friday afternoon, the final bill had not been posted on the Legislative Research Commission's website. Commission spokesman Rob Weber said none of the Legislative Record had been updated.

The governor has 10 days [excluding Sundays] to decide whether to veto the bill, sign it into law or let it become law without his signature. He has said the state should be making it easier to vote, instead of more difficult.

Two state civil-rights groups -- the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky -- and the Kentucky League of Women Voters oppose the measure, saying it could keep members of minority groups, the disabled and the poor from the polls. They have indicated possible legal action against it if becomes law.

In a statement, Corey Shapiro of the ACLU said, "The final version of Senate Bill 2 is missing important provisions that would have softened the blow to voters, especially people of color, senior citizens, the poor, people with disabilities, and people who live in rural areas -- some of the very same populations that are the most vulnerable to the current pandemic."

She added, "Thousands of people who do not meet the newly mandated identification requirements will have to choose between exposing themselves to covid-19 to obtain identification, or being forced to sit on the sidelines on Election Day.

"Many Kentuckians will not even have the option to obtain a new ID because county clerk's offices throughout the Commonwealth have closed following the recommendation of public health officials. It is unconscionable for politicians to move this legislation at a time when Kentuckians are not allowed in the Capitol and are losing their jobs, their small businesses, access to childcare, and more."

A Section on 03/21/2020

Print Headline: Voter-ID bill goes to Kentucky governor

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