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Proposal suggests criminal background checks for all voters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What if you had to undergo a criminal background check before you were allowed to vote? That is the issue a federal election commission will look at Tuesday and some local advocates are not happy about it.

Voters' rights will take center stage Tuesday as a federal election commission examines a possible new way to get rid of voter fraud: criminal background checks for all voters.

Twelve different voting rights groups will meet in downtown Kansas City at noon to protest this proposal. They don’t like the idea of subjecting every voter to a criminal background check, afraid it will intimidate some from exercising their right to vote.

The rally is being led by the League of Women Voters of Kansas City, Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties, and they are also concerned about photo ID laws, reduced polling sites and poorly trained poll workers. They want every eligible voter’s vote to count, and they believe allegations of voter fraud are unfounded and a way to ensure certain people’s votes don’t count.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity disagrees. Led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, this group is meeting in New Hampshire Tuesday for the second time to discuss ways to combat voter fraud. One of the presenters is John R. Lott, a well-known economist and gun rights advocate.

One of the first slides in his presentation says, "How to check if the right people are voting."

Republicans worry about voting by ineligible people, Democrats say that Republicans are just imagining things.

Something that might make both happy? Apply the background check system for gun purchases to voting. Lott argues that background checks would flag those in the country illegally and stop them from voting.

Background checks are expensive – between $55- to-$175 a person - but Lott argues the states could pick up those costs.

This idea of background checks for all voters is in the discussion phase right now, but if the people who rally Tuesday have their way, it will never become a reality.