REAL ID and voter photo ID aren't the same

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Question: What do voting in Kentucky and buying an airline ticket have in common?

Answer: Both will require a photo ID.

"In most cases, you'll have to have a government photo ID to vote this November," said Liles Taylor, Kentucky State AFL-CIO political coordinator. The deadline for applying for a REAL ID is Oct. 1, 2021.

You can vote with a Kentucky driver's license or a federal REAL ID because both are government-issued photo IDs. "But there's a lot of confusion about the REAL ID and the voter ID and how to get them, especially now with the coronavirus," Taylor said.

So what's the difference between the two?

Congress created the REAL ID in 2005 at the behest of the 9/11 Commission. The idea of the bi-partisan legislation was to provide extra security against another domestic terrorist attack.

The Republican-majority General Assembly recently approved the voter photo ID measure--SB2--on a nearly straight party line vote. GOP lawmakers also overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's veto of SB2.

The Republicans claimed that SB2 was needed to combat voter fraud. But they were unable to produce any evidence of imposters voting.

Democrats and other critics said SB2 was blatant voter suppression designed to make it more difficult for minorities, poor people, the elderly and the disabled to vote--Democratic, the GOP feared. In other words, the Republicans wanted to insure that their candidates had an easier time on Nov. 3.

How do I learn more about the two IDs?

Click here to get the who, what, when, where and why of the REAL ID from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website. Click here to see how to get a REAL ID in Kentucky. (Though the REAL ID is a federal program, it is administered through the states--the Transportation Cabinet in Kentucky.)

Before SB2, you could vote in Kentucky if you presented some form of identification. The Louisville Courier-Journal's Joe Sonka provided an excellent explanation of the changes SB2 made to voting, writing that the bill in its final form "would allow those without a driver's license to obtain a free photo ID card at their county clerk's office and allow eligible voters without a photo ID to cast a regular ballot or absentee ballot if they sign an affidavit."

Sonka added the bill was passed with two floor amendments: "Under the personal recognizance amendment, the poll worker allowing such an acquaintance to vote without a photo ID would have to sign an affidavit." The second amendment called for "a 'catch-all provision' in the affidavit signed by a voter. The affidavit lists several reasonable impediments to an individual obtaining a photo ID and this addition would include any not specifically listed."