“This simply will not go into effect until November’s elections,” Republican Senator Robby Mills said. “I’m sure that we will have those clerks offices open and doing business later in the spring or summer and there’s going to be ample opportunity.”
The GOP-led House and Senate made quick work of several vetoes issued by the governor, most notably reviving Senate Bill 2, a measure adding new photo ID requirements for Kentucky voters. While critics again pointed to a lack of reported cases of in-person voter fraud in the state, House Speaker David Osborne argued there are 41 counties in Kentucky in which “voter registration outnumbers the total population of their county.”
Other vetoed bills making a comeback included a measure giving candidates for governor another seven months to choose a running mate during election years, and a bill requiring local government councils to sign off on tax increases proposed by library boards, health districts, and other quasi-governmental entities.
The General Assembly rebooted a crime victim’s rights bill, commonly dubbed “Marsy’s Law,” which nearly won final approval from voters in 2019 before being struck down by the courts over the wording of the ballot question. The constitutional amendment will go before voters again, this time in full, in November.
Critiques of Gov. Andy Beshear also came in the form of a statement released by Kentucky’s Republican constitutional officers, who put the onus on the executive for keeping lawmakers in Frankfort amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” the statement read. “Legislative leaders asked the Governor weeks ago to commit to calling a special session dated for a time when the pandemic had passed so the General Assembly could complete its business. He refused. He says he is willing to give up his newfound political popularity to do the right thing, without regard to partisanship, but if that was the case and he did not want the legislature to return, he should not have vetoed bills that passed with veto-proof majorities.”
Predictably, leftist organizations are all in a tissy over this. The Root frames it as “Are Republicans still even bothering to try to hide the fact that they just don’t want people voting?” while The ACLU released this statement:
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-KY Legal Director Corey Shapiro:
“Kentucky lawmakers continued to ignore the real problems facing the Commonwealth in the middle of a global pandemic by overriding a veto for a voter suppression measure.
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. We are currently evaluating whether to seek court intervention to make sure every eligible voter can still cast a ballot under this oppressive measure.
At a time when officials of both parties throughout the country are working together to ensure every eligible voter can safely participate in their elections, the Kentucky General Assembly is making it more difficult to vote. 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. Even worse, they insist on enacting this cruel measure that thousands of people cannot even comply with because many county clerks remain closed due to the novel coronavirus.
This new law is fundamentally incompatible with the ongoing pandemic. Starting in July, the law will require all voters to include a photocopy of a photo ID to obtain an absentee ballot. This will force thousands of Kentuckians to leave home to get new IDs and make photocopies during a pandemic that many experts believe will continue throughout the year. This law will make voting more difficult, and potentially dangerous, for any Kentuckian who does not feel safe leaving their home during this pandemic – even for those who currently have a valid photo ID.
Moreover, this measure requires spending at least hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, as even Secretary of State Adams has stated. The same legislators who passed this law also recently passed significant budget cuts to critical programs. It is unconscionable that lawmakers are wasting money in search of a non-existent problem, instead of using Kentucky’s limited resources to ensure every person can safely vote in November. Kentuckians deserve a legislature that solves problems; not one that creates them.”