MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW)-- Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is traveling across the state on his 11 city tour to discuss the new Voter ID Law and on Tuesday, he made a stop in the Little Apple.
Kobach spoke to a group at the Manhattan Public Library Tuesday morning about the new law which requires voters to bring photo identification with them when they cast their ballots and which forms of ID can be used. He also answered questions from those in attendance.
“I’m going around the state trying to get information out about our new photo ID law in Kansas- give people resources, give them information about what kinds of ID are acceptable. They can go to gotvoterid.com to find out more information on the web. Really, the purpose is public information, public awareness and also just encouraging people to get engaged in the process now. We’re coming up to some very important elections. We’ve got the August primary in Kansas and of course the November election which includes the presidential race which will be a big one,” Kobach told 13 News.
“In instances where a person shows up at the polls and has forgotten their photo ID or in the very rare case where a person doesn’t have one, they can still vote. They cast a provisional ballot and then they have either six or nine days after the election before the county canvas and then they can get a photo ID and provide it to the county election office to make sure that their ballot counts,” he added.
He says the Voter ID Law has become a model for other states that are starting to adopt similar laws, including Alabama and Pennsylvania.
“I think it’s great. Any time you have Kansas taking the lead nationally because we’ve created a model for securing our elections and other states are following us, I think that’s a great tribute to the Kansas legislature, to the people of Kansas where the rest of the nation recognizes that we’ve really taken the lead in securing elections,” Kobach said.
Despite criticism that the new Voter ID Law will suppress voter turnout, Kobach says local and county elections that have already been held around the state since the requirement went into effect have seen above average turnout at the polls.
“I think the bottom line is that virtually everyone in our society who is age 18 or older has a photo ID so it’s pretty hard to make a case that it suppresses the vote or causes people not to vote simply because they have to reach into their wallet and pull out a photo ID… There will always be people who, for whatever reason, disagreed with what the Kansas legislator did and those people who don’t want the security for our election process. And they certainly are entitled to make their case and may continue to argue that they don’t like the law but it is the law right now and my primary responsibility on this tour is to make sure that people know about the law so they can comply with it,” he said.
Kobach says there have been 325 cases of voter fraud in Kansas from 1997-2010. A majority of the 14 cases from 2010 were the result of double voters- people voting in two different jurisdictions.
Some 68,000 people have voted across Kansas in local elections since January 2012 and Kobach says only 84 did not have their ID with them.
The Voter ID Law has three components:
1) voters must present at photo ID at the polls
2) it provides protections for mail-in ballots (signatures are verified by election officials)
3) In January 2013, people must provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote in Kansas for the first time.