The state’s voter identification law came under fire Tuesday night at a legislative forum where ordinary citizens got a chance to tell lawmakers what they want from the session that begins next week. The open-mike session drew a crowd of about 100, about 40 of whom chose to speak on a variety of issues ranging from abortion to fluoridated water to police brutality. But the 25 lawmakers who attended the forum heard the most about dissatisfaction with the voting law they passed in 2011 at the request of Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach contends that photo ID and proof of citizenship are necessary to prevent voter fraud by immigrants legal and illegal. But resident Bryan Mann told the lawmakers that the real purpose of the voter ID law is to suppress Democratic-leaning voter groups – especially minorities and the elderly – to cement Republican domination of state government.
He drew loud cheers after he called the law “nothing more than partisan gamesmanship and a watered down Jim Crow law,” referring to the pre-civil-rights statutes used in southern states to deny voting privileges to black people.
In last year’s elections, for the first time, all Kansas voters were required to show photo ID when they voted at the polls.
This year, a new provision takes effect requiring that new voting registrants provide proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate or passport.