GOP voter suppression bill smacked down in deep red Kentucky


Republicans in Kentucky wanted to make it harder to vote. They failed.

In a victory for voting rights, Democrats in the Kentucky House of Representatives managed to defeat a voter suppression bill pushed by the GOP.

House Bill 215, sponsored by Republican state Rep. James Tipton, would have imposed a new requirement on voters to present a government-issued photo ID to vote.

According to Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Daniel Desrochers, while Republicans command a majority in the chamber, they do not have enough votes to advance bills in committee without Democratic support. Following a call to action and testimony by the Kentucky ACLU, Democrats voted as one to block the bill from advancing to a full floor debate.

Bills to require government-issued photo ID to vote are popular in red states. They are sold erroneously as a measure against voter fraud — but most voter fraud is not committed in person. All these bills do is make it harder for millions of lower-income people without identification to vote.

Maintaining access to the polls is critical in Kentucky. The governor's race will occur in 2019. Furthermore, the state's congressional and legislative maps are not gerrymandered, but very likely will be if unified Republican control remains in 2020.

Republicans only assumed full control of the state of Kentucky last year, and wasted no time pursuing a radical conservative agenda. They were the first state to approved kicking jobless people out of Medicaid, which Gov. Matt Bevin justified by claiming Medicaid actually makes people sicker. They also banned unions from negotiating agreements with employers to protect their membership.

Other aspects of their agenda, however, have hit snags. The GOP plan to drastically cut teacher pensions has been met with outrage and resistance.

Even in a state that overwhelmingly backed Trump, Republicans in Kentucky have overreached. Democrats have sent a clear message that limiting access to the ballot is off the table.