Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Republicans Advance Kentucky Voter ID Bill With Changes

Creative Commons

The sponsors of a Kentucky voter ID bill have made changes to the proposal, no longer strictly requiring a photo ID in order to cast a ballot in elections.

The bill originally required voters to show a photo ID or else cast a provisional ballot that would require the voter to follow up at their circuit clerk’s office.

Now voters who have some non-photo forms of ID would be able to cast a ballot as long as they say they have a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID.


Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, who supports the proposal, said that the photo ID bill is necessary because of Kentucky’s high-profile U.S. Senate race this year.

“I think if there are going to be hijinks in our elections, this is going to be the year,” Adams said.

“We’ve got competitive elections, we’ve got high priority elections, we are a national center I think for interest of anyone wanting to do harm to our elections. To me, it would be choking to not have it in place in 2020.”

The bill passed out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday and can now be voted on by the full Senate.

Adams said he didn’t have any proof that in-person voter fraud was a problem in Kentucky, but argued that the proposal would boost voter confidence in an era when citizens are worried about election security.

Under the new version of the bill, Kentuckians who have a credit card, debit card or social security card would be able to cast a ballot as long as they check a box saying they have a “reasonable impediment.”

The reasonable impediment list includes lack of transportation, inability to afford a copy of a birth certificate or other documents, work schedule, lost or stolen ID, disability or illness, family responsibilities and religious objection to being photographed.

The bill would also allow voters to use expired photo IDs to prove their identities.

The measure is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. ACLU legal director Corey Shapiro said that the proposal would create a complicated scheme that the state would have to rush to implement.

“Mandating photo ID will only exacerbate the difficulties Kentuckians already face when voting, particularly the disabled, minorities, the elderly and hourly workers,” Shapiro said.

If it passes, the bill would go into effect for this year’s general election in November, when Kentuckians will weigh in on contests for Mitch McConnell’s senate seat, the presidency, congress and most seats in the state legislature.

Adams said that he would conduct a public awareness campaign ahead of the roll out and suggested that the legislature should fund it.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, said that the state doesn’t have a problem with in-person voter fraud and that Adams’ proposal is unnecessary.

“If you want fewer people to do something, you make it harder. I think this bill is putting up road blocks in front of people to keep that will prevent them from voting,” McGarvey said.

Kentucky voters can currently prove their identities using several means, including a social security card, credit card or even if they are known by an election official.

The proposal would also allow eligible voters to get a free photo ID if they can prove they have a financial hardship.

Voters who don’t have any form of ID on Election Day would be able to cast a provisional ballot and then verify their identity in person at the circuit clerk later in the week.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
Related Content