Harriet Lloyd: RI Leads the Way on Voter ID Law
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Rhode Islanders finally have something to be proud of: a Voter Identification Law requiring current photo identification that is fair to all - and works!
The R.I. statute provides 13 photo ID sources a voter may use to prove his/her identity; during the 2012 and 2013 election cycles, the law also provides an additional 10 non-photo ID sources that are acceptable. After 2013, photo ID will be required.
The Secretary of State who designed the system, the General Assembly that passed the legislation, and all who administered it on Election Day deserve the thanks and appreciation of Rhode Island citizens for a job well done. In spite of the opposition to such laws in other states, Rhode Island did the right thing! Amid reports that the State ranks far below other states on a number of critical issues, let’s take a moment to let the rest of the world know that this is one time R.I. is a leader.
Rhode Island has a significant and diverse minority population, which has been “used” by many organizations who claim to represent its best interests. It is particularly encouraging that there was no justifiable, provable evidence that those entitled to vote, whether a member of a minority or otherwise, were denied that right.
The privilege of every citizen to vote is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and election laws. The sanctity of the vote goes to the very core of the legitimacy and integrity of government. Nothing does greater harm than the perception that an election has been swayed by improper procedures and/or illegal voting. The R.I. voter identification law is an essential step in guaranteeing that the system works as it should.
The key to the viability of the R.I. law is found in the definition of what constitutes proper identification. Within the social, business and governmental culture of modern day America, what legally qualified voter can possibly claim that he/she is not identifiable by photo through one or more of the means provided by the R.I. law? Indeed, as an added means of facilitating photo identification, the Secretary of State has established a comprehensive program to provide photos to those who are homebound or otherwise unable to go to a local Board of Elections to obtain it.
For too long, R.I. citizens have been concerned about rampant reports of illegal voting by “dead people”, “out-of-staters”, “multi-voters”, etc. True or not, these reports cloud what should be a system that builds public confidence in the democratic system. Other than fingerprinting, eye readers, and other more costly and less practical devices, photo ID is the best possible way to go.
Similar laws in other states are now being tested in the courts, and there may still be efforts to overturn the R.I. law. However, for the moment, Rhode Islanders should be pleased that their state is out-front on this issue.
Wouldn’t it be nice to report that R.I. is now moving on, in a spirit of common sense, practicality, and non-partisanship to address concerns such as pension reform, excessive taxation, over-regulation of business, education, etc.?
But, for this short moment, let’s not get crazy and just be pleased that – for once - Rhode Island can be proud of having taken the lead on something as important as the integrity of the Vote.