Barbara Shelly

August 11, 2014

Seniors are collateral damage in Kansas voter suppression law

The new, stringent voter ID requirements in Kansas kept at least two elderly persons from casting a ballot last week.That is two more than the number of people identified in Kansas as having voted under a false identity.

The new, stringent voter ID requirements in Kansas kept at least two elderly persons from casting a ballot last week.

According to this story in the Topeka Capital-Journal, a group of residents from a Topeka senior complex, Brewster Place, took a bus to a polling place in the facility. But once there, three of the seniors were told they couldn’t vote because they couldn’t produce a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license. One later returned and was able to vote, but two were shut out of the process.

The seniors should have been given provisional ballots, which could have counted if they had produced a photo ID later. But they weren’t. Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell said the poll worker messed up.

A predictable consequence of Voter ID laws is that senior citizens will be shut out of voting. Many don’t have driver’s licenses or passports, and birth certificates aren’t always easy to obtain. At the very least, states that pass these unnecessary laws should conduct outreach at nursing homes and senior facilities and make it possible for elderly and disabled persons to obtain an official ID without undue hassle.

If you support voter ID laws, maybe you’re thinking that two disgruntled customers out of the thousands of Kansans who voted last week aren’t a big deal.

But it is to those people. “They were humiliated,” said Cheryl Logan, whose 97-year-old mother, Beth Hiller, was one of the persons turned away.

Furthermore, two persons denied access to a ballot is two more than the number of people identified in Kansas as having voted under a false identity.

Voter suppression laws aren’t passed to solve acknowledged problems. They are passed to discourage voting by minorities and immigrants. Senior citizens are collateral damage.

“I do want to say that I’m pretty sure my 97-year-old mother and her counterparts are not going to commit voter fraud,” Logan told the Capital-Journal

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