Kentucky governor vetoes voter ID bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday vetoed a bill pushed by Republican lawmakers to require Kentucky residents to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote.

In his veto message, the governor said the measure would create an obstacle to voting, resulting in fewer people casting ballots and “undermining our democracy.”

Beshear, a former state attorney general, added that the bill seeks to “resolve a problem that does not exist,” pointing to the absence of voter impersonation cases in Kentucky.

Secretary of State Michael Adams urged lawmakers to override the veto. The measure passed the Senate and House by wide enough margins to overcome a veto. The GOP-led legislature is scheduled to reconvene April 13.

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“I ask the legislators of both parties who believe in election integrity and passed this law to override this regrettable veto, and I hope the governor will eventually join me in governing from the center,” Adams said in a statement.

Adams, a Republican, campaigned on the issue en route to his election victory last year. The bill’s lead sponsor is GOP Sen. Robby Mills.

The measure would require Kentucky residents to produce a photo ID when voting, with limited exceptions, starting with the November election.

People lacking their photo ID at the polls could vote by provisional ballot and later produce that ID to enable their ballot to be counted. Or voters could cast their ballots if recognized by an election officer, who would have to sign a document affirming to knowing the voter.

The bill’s supporters have noted that a photo ID already is required for many other transactions, including opening a bank account, cashing a check or picking up sports tickets at will-call.

The bill’s opponents countered that the photo ID requirement would reduce turnout among minorities, the poor, the elderly and disabled voters. They also objected to a “rushed timeline” to implement the photo ID requirement just months before a high-stakes general election.

In November, Kentuckians will vote for a president and decide one of the nation’s highest-profile campaigns: Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s bid for reelection.

On Friday, Beshear also objected to the bill’s timing, coming in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The offices where people could obtain a photo ID needed to vote are currently closed and it’s uncertain when they will reopen, the governor said.

“The fact that someone would need something to vote that right now they absolutely can’t get because of the coronavirus, yes, I think is a wrong move, and it absolutely needed to be vetoed,” Beshear said at his daily coronavirus-related briefing.

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