Kentucky GOP Celebrates Win On Voter ID While Beshear Criticizes Their Timing

Gov. Beshear (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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April 15, 2020 5:23 p.m.

The Kentucky legislature, girded by Republican supermajorities in both chambers, easily overturned Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) veto of a voter ID requirement Tuesday.

Beshear expressed his incredulity during his daily coronavirus press briefing.

“I don’t know how somebody gets an ID during the coronavirus where every place you’d get it is closed,” he said. “Can’t they at least wait until next session when we’re not facing this? They can do it next year — they’ll have the numbers to override any veto,” he added of the state Republicans.

The law, requiring every voter to present photo ID when voting, was gleefully signed by Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) who ran on getting such a law passed during his 2019 campaign. Adams noted that the secretary of state signs laws enacted over the governor’s veto.

The law will be in effect for the November general election, barring any legal action.

While the presidential election is essentially a foregone conclusion in Kentucky  —Trump scooped up nearly 63 percent of the vote in the deep red state in 2016 — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a challenge from Amy McGrath, a Marine veteran, who mounted an unsuccessful but attention-grabbing bid for Kentucky’s 6th District congressional seat in 2018. Though there has been scant polling in the state, Five Thirty Eight and the Cook Political Report give McConnell a narrow edge.

Cory Shapiro, the director of the ACLU’s Kentucky branch, said that the organization is considering legal action.

“We remain concerned about the rushed timeline and lack of resources to implement this new law just months before a highly anticipated general election and in the middle of a national emergency,” Shapiro said in a statement. “We are currently evaluating whether to seek court intervention to make sure every eligible voter can still cast a ballot under this oppressive measure.”

Shapiro said that, since the law requires a photocopy of an ID for absentee voting, Kentuckians may have to endanger themselves during the coronavirus pandemic to obtain IDs or copies. “They have pushed this voter suppression measure in the name of election security, yet not a single proponent of this law has ever provided any instance of in-person voter fraud in Kentucky,” he added.

The law’s Republican sponsors celebrated its passage.

Wednesday afternoon, the Republican legislature was looking to override a slew of Beshear’s other, unrelated vetos on the last day of a legislative session curtailed by the pandemic.

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