Rhode Island governor signs voter ID bill
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed into law a bill that would require voters to show identification at the polls in 2012, with a photo required before casting a ballot in 2014, his office announced on Wednesday.
“Having reflected a great deal on the issue, I believe that requiring identification at the polling place is a reasonable request to ensure the accuracy and integrity of our elections,” Chafee, an Independent, said in a statement.
“Notably, I spoke with representatives of our state’s minority communities, and I found their concerns about voter fraud and their support for this bill particularly compelling,” he added.
Under the new law, poll workers will ask voters for identification beginning in 2012, and a number of non-photo documents such as a Social Security card or birth certificate will suffice for them to be allowed to vote.
In 2014, however, any identification will need to include a photo. The state will provide free photo identification, and provisional ballots will be made available to anyone without the proper documents.
Until three years I would have said fears of voter fraud were exaggerated. (By voter fraud I mean people who aren’t eligible to vote or people voting more than once. Rigging voting machines or tampering with ballots is a whole ‘nother topic.) But then some strange things happened in the caucus states during the Democratic primaries.
In this day and age there is nothing unreasonable about expecting people to show standardized photo identification before casting ballots. This enables us to verify that they are eligible to vote and that they only vote once.
I was a little disappointed by this statement from Bill Clinton:
Bill Clinton likens GOP effort to Jim Crow laws
Former President Bill Clinton Wednesday compared GOP efforts to limit same-day voter registration and block some convicted felons from voting to Jim Crow laws and poll taxes.
In a speech to liberal youth activists Wednesday, the former president called out proposals in battleground states like Florida and Ohio that could limit the voter rolls.
“I can’t help thinking since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time,” Clinton said at Campus Progress’s annual conference in Washington.
“There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today,” Clinton added.
That’s a pretty broad brush. Should someone convicted of drug possession or passing bad checks be permanently barred from voting? No – once they have completed their sentence and probation/parole they should have all their legal rights and privileges restored.
On the other hand, do we really want rapists, murderers and child molesters voting? Probably not. If you don’t want to lose your right to vote, don’t rape or murder anyone and don’t molest any children.
Should non-resident students be allowed to vote in the states where they go to school or where they permanently reside? If we give them the option of choosing either one, how do we ensure they don’t do both?
In 2008 Al Franken was elected to the US Senate by a margin of 225 votes. The presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were decided by the slimmest of margins. It wouldn’t (or didn’t) take a lot of fraud to change the outcome of close elections like those.
To maintain the integrity of our elections we need several reforms. Voter ID is one of them. We need standardized laws in all 57 states, and we need tamper-proof ballots and/or voting machines. We need to make sure that eligible voters are not prevented from voting while at the same time preventing fraud.
And we need to make sure that the will of the voters isn’t thwarted by corrupt party officials.
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