The critics of voter ID and election reform need to come up with better arguments. First, they allege that these laws are a ploy by Republicans to suppress the minority vote. Second, they say that voter ID laws put a burden on the poor to get a proper ID in order to vote. As Robert Knight explains in a recent column, neither of these two arguments can be used to explain why the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU has demanded an end to the photo voter ID law in the state.
The law was put into effect by the solidly Democratic legislature in 2011. In fact, it was an African-American Democrat who introduced the bill in the Rhode Island Senate. Members of both parties co-sponsored the bill in the House. This was hardly an example of voter suppression pushed through by Republicans.
What about the argument that photo ID laws are a burden on the poor or disabled? That can’t be an argument in Rhode Island. The state works very hard to help anyone from students to the homeless to seniors to the disabled obtain proper identification. You can register to vote showing several forms of ID. This includes such documents as an employers ID card, a credit or debit card, military ID card, student ID card, health club ID card, insurance plan ID card or a public housing ID card. If you don’t have any of those, there are 19 other items you can use. The state of Rhode Island even has a mobile phone app that gives citizens lots of voter information and even includes GPS directions to the nearest polling place.
Let me suggest that if you aren’t registered to vote or don’t have a photo ID, it is not the fault of the state of Rhode Island. That’s why I said at the beginning, that critics of voter ID laws are going to have to come up with a more convincing argument than the ones they have been using.