After hearing two days of arguments on the voter ID bill championed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Senate committee is considering another bill characterized by its author as "voter ID light."
Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, said she wrote Senate Bill 222 in response to what she perceives as problems with Kobach's plan. She said the state needs a more "common sense approach."
"Kansas voters want secure elections, but they want a voter ID policy that solves the problems without suppressing the right to vote," she said.
Mah, the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Elections, chose to go to the Senate with her bill because the House passed Kobach's proposal, contained in House Bill 2067, on Feb. 25.
The Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections will consider Mah's proposal on Wednesday, said Sen. Terrie Huntington, R-Fairway, chair of the committee.
Mah's proposal would not grant the Secretary of State's Office the power to prosecute cases of voter fraud. It instead leaves that job where it is under current law, with district attorneys.
Mah called the Kobach plan's heightened requirements to prove citizenship for registration "the elephant in the room."
She wants to keep first-time registrants from having to show proof of citizenship. She said requiring a birth certificate, passport or naturalization document would be too burdensome and would inhibit voter registration drives.
By 2013, the Department of Revenue expects all driver's license offices to require proof of citizenship from anyone seeking a new license or renewing an existing one.
Mah said that for the time being, a driver's license number, non-driver ID number or the last four digits of a Social Security number would have to suffice until new integrated computer systems allow the Secretary of State's Office to cross-check documents with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Mah's proposal would require voters to show identification at the polls, but non-photo IDs, including utility bills and pay stubs, would suffice. Kobach's plan would require voters to show a state-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license. Kobach's plan would offer free IDs to those who can't afford them.
Mah's provision for those who do not show proper ID at the polls is different for first-time voters and those who have voted at a location previously. First-time voters would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, but would have to submit identification to the county election officer for the vote to be counted.
Those who have voted at the location previously would also be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. The county election officer would then have the responsibility to compare the information on the ballot application with the voter's registration record.
In cases where the voter does not show ID, Kobach's plan does not take into account the person's voting history. All voters who don't show ID would have to submit documents to the county election officer in order for their provisional ballot to be counted.