A lawsuit challenging Kansas’ law requiring voters to present a picture identification when casting ballots Wednesday was submitted to Shawnee County District Court on behalf of two Osage County men who were blocked last year from having their votes counted. Wichita attorney Jim Lawing filed the case for retirees Arthur Spry and Charles Hamner, both of Overbrook, to contest constitutionality of the voting mandate included in the Secure and Fair Elections Act of 2011, which was written by Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The suit names Kobach as the lone defendant. Hamner and Spry, who didn’t have a government-issued identity card with a photograph proving they were Kansans in good standing, voted with provisional ballots in November 2012. Their ballots weren’t counted because neither subsequently provided sufficient proof of their identity.
“The right to vote is a fundamental right possessed by Kansas citizens, and the plaintiffs’ rights to vote were denied,” Lawing said in the suit. “It is a pernicious attack on the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs and thousands of other Kansans who do not enjoy ready access to modern technology.”
Lawing said neither man had access to birth records necessary to secure a picture ID. The retirement home residents don’t have a driver’s license nor do they own computers or the resources to apply for a free ID from the state.
The secretary of state’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Kobach has repeatedly expressed confidence in constitutionality of all provisions of the voting reform law.
Since 2012, state law mandated a photo ID when voting in person and inclusion of a driver’s license number when voting by mail. A third provision, proof of citizenship for Kansans registering for the first time, was implemented in January.