Senate heating up about voter ID bill; Schodorf says she feels guilty about ever voting for it

TOPEKA — There’s heated debate on the Senate floor about pushing up a requirement that new voters provide proof of citizenship to the 2012 election.

Supporters and opponents of doing so are speaking about Senate Bill 129 now.

Sen. Kelly Kultala, D-Kansas City, said she was”starting to get embarrassed” for Kansas Secretary of State Kris 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 Thursday.

Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, says the secretary of state’s office needs power to prosecute people who violate voter laws.

Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, questioned Abrams about how many cases of voter fraud Kansas has had in the last five years. Abrams answered “I’ve been told there were seven.”

Owens questioned spending $65,000 “and expanding the functions of the secretary of state to criminal capacity for what in five years has been seven cases.”

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 a voter fraud bill. She called the bill “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.

Ernestine Krehbiel, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, told The Eagle and earlier this week that that group was against requiring proof of citizenship on principle but especially against moving up implementation from 2013 to 2012.

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