It was never fully implemented, and it won’t be fully repealed either.
Instead Rhode Island will keep its controversial Voter ID law as it is now: identification is needed but it doesn’t have to have a picture. As a result, the Ocean State remains one of the 19 states that require a non-photo id to vote, rather than one of the 11 that requires a photo id. The remaining 20 states don’t require identification. (see map)
It leaves in place obstacles to voting, but won’t effect voter fraud. Rhode Island also retains the onus of providing free id cards to anyone who may need one (this is a Constitutional requirement so voter ID laws don’t serve as a de facto poll tax). If it’s true that a good compromise is one in which neither party is happy, this is a good compromise.
The Providence Journal reports that Rep. Larry Valencia’s bill that would repeal the voter ID law has been amended and enjoys the “backing from House leadership.”
The law, passed in 2011 amidst much controversy, was championed by Woonsocket conservative and ALEC minion Jon Brien, who proudly referred to himself as the “godfather of voter ID” in Rhode Island. It was co-signed by House Speaker Gordon Fox – read the Phoenix’s great history of the local voter ID saga here.
In October, as both Fox and Brien, both Democrats, faced spirited electoral challenges from the left, Fox promised to introduce a bill that would reconsider voter ID.
“Should I be fortunate to be re-elected, I will be sponsoring legislation to include a ‘sunset provision’ in the law. The sunset would force a ‘re-look’ at the law, which means legislative hearings would be held to learn the effectiveness of the law and whether modifications need to be made. That would include looking at the more restrictive provisions set to be enacted for the 2014 election cycle.”
Fox beat independent Mark Binder and Brien lost to labor-backed Democrat Steve Casey, who voted against marriage equality this year and sponsored an awful bill that would punish truancy by holding back social services.
To that end, Binder deserves a big giant thank you for helping Rhode Island hold the line on voter ID. Larry Valencia, too!