84 Voters Too Many

July 23, 2012

In a recent Kansas City Star story on the Brennan Center's latest voter ID study, Secretary of State Kris Kobach claims to have “actual statistics” showing the state’s voter ID law only disenfranchised 84 voters in recent local elections. This doesn’t take into account the potentially thousands more who stayed home or didn’t cast a ballot because they knew their vote wouldn’t count without a photo ID.

Kobach’s number only counts those who tried to vote in a local election, did not have a photo ID, and cast a provisional ballot that didn’t count. The 68,000 Kansans who voted in these low-turnout local elections are much more likely to have the required photo IDs. More than 1.7 million Kansans voted in 2008. When they head to the polls this November, potentially hundreds of thousands — up to 11 percent — could find it harder to vote. We of course need to protect the integrity of our elections. But an overly restrictive voter ID law that could prevent thousands of eligible Americans from participating in our democracy is not the answer. Even 84 voters not allowed to vote is 84 too many.