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GOP Kentucky governor nominee Cameron chooses author of voter ID law as running mate

State Sen. Robby Mills later introduced a second successful bill that limits which forms of voter ID are acceptable in Kentucky.

By Josh Israel - July 27, 2023
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Robby Mills and Daniel Cameron
Kentucky state Sen. Robby Mills waves to supporters on July 19, 2023, in Frankfort, Kentucky, with Republican gubernatorial nominee Daniel Cameron. (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner)

Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky and the Republican nominee for governor of the commonwealth, has picked state Sen. Robby Mills to be his running mate. Mills, a prominent opponent of reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ equality, is also the author of a Kentucky law requiring the presentation of photo identification before a person can vote in the state.

According to the AP, Cameron praised Mills as a “rock-ribbed conservative.” 

Cameron and Mills will face incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman in this November’s general election.

In January 2020, Mills introduced Senate Bill 2, a proposal to require citizens to show government-issued identification in order to cast their votes, with few exceptions.

“Many around the state see this as a no-brainer…of course you should have to show a photo ID to vote!” Mills wrote on Facebook at the time. “I believe that knowing that each voter showed a photo ID before voting, raises the confidence in our election processes.”

With a provision of the law requiring a no-fee photo ID be made available for those without a driver’s license, Kentucky’s legislative research commission estimated the law could cost the state $3,620,000 annually.

Though Democrats in the Legislature pointed out that there were no documented cases of voter impersonation fraud in Kentucky, and the research commission found “zero offenders incarcerated or on supervision for voting violations,” the Republican majority passed it anyway. 

Beshear vetoed the bill on April 3 of that year, warning that “the provisions of the law would create an obstacle to the ability of Kentuckians to exercise their right to vote, resulting in fewer people voting and undermining our democracy.” He called it an attempt to “resolve a problem that does not exist” and noted that forcing Kentuckians to obtain photo identification cards in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic would undermine public health and safety.

Kentucky only requires a simple majority in the state House and Senate to override a veto. Both chambers did so 11 days later. Mills posted photos on Facebook of himself celebrating the victory and wrote, “Requiring a photo ID to vote is a no brainer and will insure that each voter is who they say they are. It will undoubtably [sic] build confidence in our election process!!”

The following month, as the pandemic continued to keep people at home, he opposed extending the period for absentee voting in the state’s primary elections. “I am supportive of the current expanded absentee balloting during this primary, but it SHOULD NOT BE EXTENDED, as Gov. Andy Beshear is suggesting!” he wrote. “In person voting is the safest way to cast your vote, and showing a photo ID even further guards the vote!”

Mills authored a bill in 2022 to further limit the number of acceptable forms of voter identification. He said on Facebook that the law “increases election integrity in KY by expanding AG independent inquiries, tightens voter ID, prohibits internet connection of voting machines, and requires paper ballot back up machines by 2024.” The Legislature overrode Beshear’s veto and made it law.

Like his new running mate, Cameron has a history of working against democracy.

In May 2020, he and Republican Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams created a “ballot integrity task force” that they said would “monitor the 2020 primary election and investigate and deter vote fraud.” 

That November, after Joe Biden won the presidential election, Cameron helped cast doubt on President Joe Biden’s victory. He signed an amicus brief with other Republican attorneys general backing a Pennsylvania Republican Party appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to count mail-in ballots mailed before Election Day but received a few days afterward. Cameron and his colleagues claimed without evidence that doing so “exacerbated the risk of ballot fraud.” 

“While this did not occur in Kentucky, what happens in other states during a presidential election matters to Kentuckians because we are electing our President and Vice President,” he wrote in a Nov. 9 press release. “Ultimately, we all have to accept the results, and it will be hard for some people to do that if they think issues like these go unexplored.”

The Supreme Court rejected the appeals.

In March 2021, Cameron signed on to a letter from Republican state attorneys general urging Congress not to pass the For the People Act, a bill that would have expanded voting rights protections. The bill passed in the House but was filibustered in the Senate.

That August, he joined an amicus brief in support of a challenged Georgia law that made it harder to vote by mail and illegal to give water or food to citizens waiting in line to vote. Lawsuits against the legislation are still working their way through the courts.

Recent polls of the gubernatorial race have shown Beshear and Coleman with a lead ranging from four to 10 points.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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