A cantankerous debate to move up by a year a requirement for new voters to provide proof of citizenship failed Wednesday on the Senate floor, with one senator saying she was embarrassed for Secretary of State Kris Kobach and another admitting she felt guilty for ever voting for the state’s voter ID bill.
Legislators defeated a last-minute maneuver to concur with the House on a substitute for Senate Bill 129 15-23. That means people registering to vote won’t have to provide a birth certificate, passport or other citizenship proof until 2013. It also means that Kobach won’t get the authority he sought to independently prosecute allegations of voter fraud.
Sen. Kelly Kultala, D-Kansas City, said she was “starting to get embarrassed” for Kobach, who made voter fraud a big part of his campaign. Other legislators said they were offended an effort to push up the implementation date was coming up so late in the session, which traditionally ends on the 90th day. The 90th day is today.
Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, said “I am sorry this has been brought to be concurred because I believe that we already have a system that is able to investigate reports of voter (fraud) and decide whether those cases will be charged.” She said she regretted ever voting for the voter ID bill. She called it “chilling,” especially against people of color.
“I have felt guilty for voting on it all the weeks that we’ve been here I’d not believe there is voter fraud in this state,” Schodorf said, admitting she was getting emotional about the issue.