Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Kansas State Representative Mike Burgess (R-Topeka) appeared before the House Elections Committee Monday in support of House Bill 2077, a voter ID bill.
Rep. Burgess told committee members Kansans have a justified expectation for a secure and accessible election process.
"Fair and reliable election results are a fundamental and basic expectation of our citizens and are of the upmost importance in any society. By simply confirming that each vote cast is a valid one, we secure the legitimacy and integrity of the political process—instilling public faith in our elections," Rep. Burgess said.
The bill requested by Rep. Burgess is similar to a measure passed last year by the Kansas Legislature but vetoed by the Governor.
"Many bills improve as they go through the legislative process, and in my opinion the measure had become a much better bill," Burgess testified.
The bill requires all in-person voters to provide photographic identification at every election. The ID must contain the voter's name, picture and an expiration date that has not passed. It provides a number of photo identification options, including:
· a current Kansas driver's license,
· current Kansas nondriver's identification card,
· United States passport,
· employee badge or identification,
· debit or credit card,
· military identification, student identification
· or public assistance identification.
The bill exempts a number of groups – those 65 and older; persons with a temporary or permanent disability; military members and their spouses serving overseas; registered voters living overseas; etc.
House Bill 2077 also allows people who are 18 to 65, registered to vote or who plan to register, and are eligible to receive public assistance to receive a free nondriver's identification card.
Rep. Burgess pointed out that during the last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indiana voter ID law. Also, on January 14th, the federal appeals court in Atlanta upheld Georgia's voter ID law. Both of those states require voters to show a state-issued photo ID in order to vote.
"It was also interesting to see that voter turnout in Georgia increased at a higher rate than in other deep South states that lack strict voter ID laws," Burgess said. "In fact, Georgia voter turnout increased in November 2008 at the second highest rate in the country. In Indiana, the increase in voter turnout was the fifth highest in the country."
Burgess said HB 2077 is just part of his overall plan to ensure Kansas has fair and accessible elections.
"Over the last several years I have worked to improve our elections system at all levels. Kansas now offers satellite voting locations prior to Election Day and allows special polling places at nursing homes so voters have better access," Burgess said.
The Committee is expected to debate and vote on the bill Wednesday, February 11th.