Dorothy Buchholz, a reader in Olathe, wrote me last week, railing over the Voter ID law passed by the Kansas Legislature, signed by the governor, and now in effect, which requires all voters to show a picture ID at the voting booth.
That law was a solution without a problem. As the reader noted, in all her years of working as a volunteer on voting day, she knows of only one case of voter fraud, and that was an individual who had property both in Missouri and Kansas. Cases of voter fraud in Kansas are extremely rare.
She wants to know why senior citizens were not excluded, inasmuch as those who are disabled or in nursing homes do not have driver’s licenses.
Indeed, Dorothy. It’s even worse than that. Only 89 percent of Americans eligible for a driver’s license have one, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
And the Kansas law may be challenged, because it requires Kansans without a driver’s license to pay for underlying documents to obtain a free ID, which some believe is like a poll tax.
But really, Dorothy, that is the least of our problems.
The next shoe to drop is on Jan. 1, when a much more odious requirement goes into effect in Kansas.
That part of the law requires proof of citizenship in order to register to vote in Kansas.
Although 13 types of documents are allowed as proof, most driver’s licenses will not do the trick. Rather, one will almost assuredly have to come up with a passport or a birth certificate.
Only about a third of Kansans have a passport.
I could not find out the percentage who have a birth certificate, but I know this: If you don’t have one, you may have a big hurdle ahead of you.
First of all, in most cases, you have to show a picture ID to get a birth certificate. So, if you are among the 11 percent without a driver’s license, you are in a world of hurt.
Also, if women have changed their names either by marriage or divorce, which includes the vast majority of women, to get a birth certificate, they would have to present either their marriage license or divorce decree. How many women have those lying around the house?
Our Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he wants to stamp out illegal immigrants from voting in Kansas, as if that were anything but a fantasy.
What he and supportive Republican legislators, as well as the governor, almost assuredly want is to suppress the vote of seniors, poor and minorities. They typically vote Democratic. I am a registered Republican, but this is no way to win.
Arizona and Georgia have had similar laws on the books, but the courts have held up implementation of their “citizenship” laws. Also, Alabama and Tennessee have recently passed their versions of this law.
No one knows how any state’s Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court would rule, but I would bet that the Kansas Supreme Court will strike down this law, because, in fact, it will suppress the vote.
At least, Dorothy, one can hope.
Steve Rose, 913 freelance columnist, writes in this space each week.