As red state legislatures continue to move to restrict access to voting citing voter fraud which is virtually non-existent proofs of the resulting disenfranchisement continue to turn up even as they deny that anyone’s right to vote is being interfered with. The latest example took place in Topeka, Kansas as two elderly residents of a senior care facility were denied the right to vote because they appeared at the polling place without an ID.
Under the law these seniors should have been supplied with provisional ballots allowing them an opportunity to obtain and present the necessary ID instead they were simply informed by an uninformed poll worker that they could not vote at all.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Secretary of State Kris Kobach has confirmed that the two — both residents of Brewster Place in southwest Topeka — were turned away without being provided with a provisional ballot as the law requires by a poll worker who did not understand the law. Every potential voter is to be supplied with a ballot, he said, even if they do not have an acceptable ID with them, if they vote via provisional ballot their vote will not be confirmed until a valid ID is presented.
“It appears the poll worker just didn’t understand the instructions,” Kobach said.
Kobach led the charge to pass the law in 2011 saying that it was necessary to prevent voter impersonation and protect the integrity of the vote from attempts by “aliens” to illegally vote in Kansas elections. Of course multiple investigations have shown that neither of these things have ever been an issue anywhere, most invalid votes are cast by those who are not impersonating someone else but rather by those who are not aware that they are ineligible to vote and undocumented immigrants are maintaining a low profile and doing nothing to draw the attention of government officials.
Kobach said that he had spoken to Shawnee County Commissioner of Elections, Andrew Howell who attributed the incident to one poll worker saying that the person would not be asked back in the future.
Howell defended the county’s poll workers and their qualifications saying:
“The first thing we teach poll workers, all 600 of them, is that every voter is eligible to receive a ballot and never to deny the ballot. I think it is clear based on the call log that at least one person had that happen.”
Howell said that there were three potential voters turned away initially but that one was later allowed to vote and he has apologized to the other two.
Topeka resident Cheryl Logan whose 97-year-old mother, Beth Hiller was one of the two denied her right to vote brought the incident to light after visiting her mother and learning that she had not been allowed to vote.
In an email Logan said:
“(They) said Mother and all of them were really upset, as were the staff. Now I really did not have a problem with having to show an ID to vote until it this happened. An unintended consequence of the law, but these people were devastated.”