At a time when primary turnout is already taking a hit from the coronavirus, a new photo ID requirement in Kentucky looms as another deterrent from the polls this year.
Legislation cleared Thursday by the General Assembly would require would-be voters show a driver's license or other government-issued identification with a photo. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has signaled he opposes the bill, but his veto would have minimal effect because the House and Senate are solidly Republican and have the power to override him by simple majority.
The bill was already viewed as adding Kentucky to the roster of states with the toughest voter ID requirements. Critics now lament the measure could suppress the vote further because of the public health emergency, which has closed or curtailed office hours at many of the government offices that issue ID cards.
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Some 378,000 transgender voters could be blocked from casting ballots this fall because their names, appearances or gender identities don't match their driver's licenses or other identification, a California think tank estimates.
The figure is about one-quarter of 1 percent of the national electorate, a relatively tiny share that could nonetheless be dispositive in an extremely close presidential election — especially if trans voters get turned away in battleground states. Wisconsin, Arizona, Ohio and Georgia, for example, have some of the most restrictive laws among the 35 states requiring voters to show ID at their polling places.
"Especially in states that require an ID to be shown, this could result in some transgender voters being disenfranchised," said Jody Herman, a researcher who compiled the report released Thursday by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
Virginia state lawmakers on Tuesday approved a package of bills to make it easier to register and vote in a state that will likely play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of November's election.
The legislation changes Election Day to a state holiday, allows for "no-excuse" absentee voting, establishes automatic voter registration and repeals a requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls. This would make Virginia the first state to repeal such a law.
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