Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

14 responses to “Speaker Fox Promises to Reconsider Voter ID Law”

  1. Barry

    While voter supression is obviously a legitimate concern, I see very little chance this will be repealed because my observation as a poll worker in now 2 elections (both primaries) is that the new law is overwhelmingly popular with voters, so the Assembly is not likely to repeal it.  It is not a bad thing that voters want to be reassured about the integrity of elections, even though the law addresses only a small part of potential fraud.

    With the wide variety of ids allowed, the significant outreach of our Secretary of State, and the requirement that provisional ballots be available for those without ids (we only had one case at the primary out of almost 600 voters)  it is hard for me to see how any legitimate RI voter can be denied the right to vote.

    By the way, I attribute Rep Fox’s stated willingness to reconsider in part because he is pressed by an active opponent, showing the benefit of real competition for office.  

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    1. PinkHatLib

      “we only had one case at the primary out of almost 600 voters”

      How many without IDs stayed home?

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    2. PinkHatLib

      “it is hard for me to see how any legitimate RI voter can be denied the right to vote.”

      What happens to a vote cast by a provisional voter who can’t get to the Board of Canvassers by the close of the next business the day? I’d say that would include most if not all working class folks who aren’t in the immediate vicinity of a BOC office. Certainly those without cars or flexilble work hours.

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  2. Walt48

    “I see very little chance this will be repealed because my observation as a poll worker in now 2 elections (both primaries) is that the new law is overwhelmingly popular with voters, so the Assembly is not likely to repeal it.”
    Your observations are no more than a biased interpretation of your perception of events.  I wonder how you can presume that I was in favor of the law when I showed my ID and seethed inside that I had to?  I wonder how you can presume to know how citizens who didn’t vote because of the ID law felt?  It’s amazing that you can come to such a definitive conclusion based on the small percentage of voters who vote in primaries. However, beyond all that, it really doesn’t matter if the large majority of Rhode Islanders love the ID law if it essentially disenfranchises a small minority.  I believe that the photo ID law is simply a way to try to circumvent the 15th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.
     
     

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  3. Portsmouth Citizen

    I used my United States passport for ID. I used it on purpose because there exists no “stronger” type of ID and so it was my own silent F-YOU to the whole requirement. But here’s the thing:
     
    The poll worker seemed puzzled that my passport had no information about my address. Yes, that’s right. U.S. passports do not have the individual’s address. So a person could move to East Bohunk, Nebraska, but still use their perfectly valid passport to vote in RI. I sure do feel reassured at how well the non-existent voter fraud problem is being stopped by requiring IDs. 
     
    Let’s face it, the only reason to “re-look at the law” is because it wasn’t looked at well enough in the first place.

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  4. dubnotdubya

    “It is hard for me to see how any legitimate RI voter can be denied the right to vote.” Okay, here’s one for you: I was out of state for nearly two months before the primary taking care of an ailing family member. Unbeknownst to me, my driver’s license expired while I was away. My passport expired several months ago, and I have not gotten around to renewing it. Because this law is being phased in, I was able to vote by showing a bank statement. But if the more stringent requirements were already in place, I believe that I would not have been able to vote. If I’m wrong about this, then it’s because I don’t have the next phase of requirements memorized despite having followed this issue in the news. How many average people have the requirements memorized? Since the primary, I have updated my driver’s license and am all set now. But I’m an able-bodied, non-elderly person who follows the news and had time to go take care of that. I guarantee that there are others in less fortunate situations who will run into the problem of expired IDs at some point. And if that means provisional ballots for them (again, I don’t have the requirements for the next phase of the law memorized), let’s hope they don’t live in that House district in Pawtucket….
    I thought it was interesting that John Marion mentioned proposals to freeze the law at current requirements. That would help in the situation of expired IDs, so we’ll see what happens.

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  5. Barry

    Some comments on the above:
     to pink-hat, the Provisional voter does not have to go to the Board of Canvassers at all, a sealed bag of provisional ballots is delivered right away to that Board by a poll worker.
     to walt, my opinion is based on quite a few voters who said that it was about time an id was asked for, or equivalent.  Not one person commented with an objection.  What is your basis for your opinion that it disenfranchises anyone?  

      By the way all, valid ids include a drivers license, employee id, college id, the state ID issued by the Sec of State, passport, public housing id, a social security card, medicare or medicaid card, ripta bus pass, military id, utility bill, bank statement, rental statement, tution bill, health club card, insurance plan card and birth certificate.  Again, even if you don’t have any of that, there is always a provisional ballot.  I repeat, I don’t see why any legitimate voter who wants to vote would lose ballot access.

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    1. Tom Sgouros

      I sat at the polls for a few hours on Primary day this year, and I believe I saw four or five people turned away for ID problems.  I know that one came back, but I don’t know about the others.  This was not a poor area.  I don’t claim to know what the majority of people thought who came, but I think it’s not sound logic to infer that an unproblematic day at the polls means there isn’t a serious problem underneath.

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    2. PinkHatLib

      “the Provisional voter does not have to go to the Board of Canvassers at all, a sealed bag of provisional ballots is delivered right away to that Board by a poll worker.”

      That’s incorrect. Yes, the ballot is delivered (I’ve worked as a poll warden in a number of elections), but it’s not clear that vote will be counted unless the voter delivers proof of identity to the BOC by close of business the next day.

      Provisional Ballot Overview
      “The voter has until the close of business the day after the election to provide information to the Board of Canvassers to help qualify their ballot.”

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    3. PinkHatLib

      What’s scary is that even someone working at the polls isn’t clear that provisional ballots aren’t necessarily counted unless the voter is proactive about proving their identity. I wonder how many provisional ballots will be tossed out this year?

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  6. DogDiesel

    “I sat at the polls for a few hours on Primary day this year, and I believe I saw four or five people turned away for ID problems.”
     
    Was it ID problems or not? Having worked at the polls in the past, most people were turned away at the polls for being at the wrong polling place.

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    1. Tom Sgouros

      Specifically ID problems.  There were plenty of people turned away — as there always are — for being registered in the wrong party, but I was being nosy and asking the people who were turned away.  I hedge a little because there was a language issue with one (Portuguese — he came back) and another was kind of vague about the problem.

      Whatever the exact count, it doesn’t take away from the point that an untroubled experience at the polling location is not good evidence of a lack of a problem.

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  7. Portsmouth Citizen

    I just want to address Barry’s comment that “Not one person commented with an objection.”
     
    I object. But I didn’t comment because it isn’t the fault of the poll worker, nor is there anything the poll worker could do about it if I complained. So the only thing I’d accomplish by objecting is to be rude to a poll worker. I didn’t see the point.
     
    Don’t confuse silence for acquiescence.

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  8. Barry

    One more time to comment:

    If Tom saw folks “turned away” for no id he should report that infraction to his Board of Canvassers since we poll workers are explicitly told not to turn such people away but instead offer a provisional ballot.

    From what we are told, Pink Hat is wrong to say provisional voters must appear at the Board of Canvassers for their vote to count.    The manual says that the Board will check records and signature against the voter registration file to see if it is counted or not.  I suppose the voter could actually go to the Board to see that this is done but the Cleark at the polls does give the voter a receipt and they can call the Board of Canvassers to see if it did indeed get counted.

    That said, I suggest someone deliberately use a provisional vote and see what actually happens.    

    Finally, I never said there were no people opposed to the id law, I could only report (accurately!) that at my poll lots of people said they supported the law and I heard nobody raise an objection.  I did note it was a primary, so maybe not representative of all the district voters.  That said, I still do think the law is popular with most voters so the Assembly is unlikely to repeal it – efforts might better be made to make it work fairly.

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