Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Tuesday his office quickly formed a policy on the use of high school IDs for voting, and one of his top deputies said any confusion about the matter occurred at the county level. Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, asked Kobach about the policy during an elections committee hearing. She referenced news reports in which county officials said the school IDs aren’t valid for voting, while Kobach’s office interpreted the state’s voter ID law as allowing some. Kobach told the committee his office determined that IDs issued by public schools would be acceptable because “a public school is technically a local unit of government.” Private school IDs, he said, wouldn’t be valid at the polls. “Took you awhile to do that,” Schmidt said. “It didn’t take our office long,” Kobach said, telling Schmidt that the determination was made within days of the question being raised. “Interesting,” Schmidt said.
The League of Women Voters began quizzing Kobach’s office about the validity of high school IDs before the organization began a voter registration drive in September at schools throughout the Topeka area. Brad Bryant, head of elections in Kobach’s office, said the office sent a memo to counties in August explaining the high school ID policy. “We made a decision and made a policy statement to the counties,” Bryant said. “With some of them, it didn’t register.”
County elections officials in Jefferson and Wabaunsee counties told The Topeka Capital-Journal in mid-September that they believed the voter ID laws spearheaded by Kobach didn’t allow for the use of any high school IDs.