Repeal the Voter ID law in Rhode Island

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In 2011, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a bill requiring voters to present photo identification before casting a ballot at the polls and Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law. This law should never have passed and needs to be repealed.

Voter ID laws are intended to combat voter impersonation but there is no evidence that this type of fraud occurs. Most accusations of voter fraud in RI have to do with absentee ballots, which are not addressed by Voter ID laws. More than 1 billion votes were cast in the US from 2000 to 2014. During those years, only 31 credible allegations of voter impersonation were found.

There is evidence, however, that Voter ID laws disenfranchise minorities, the elderly, people with disabilities, students, and the poor. These populations are less likely to have driver's licenses and find it difficult to obtain voter identification cards due to lack of transportation and mobility, as well as the cost of obtaining the documentation required.

According to the New York Times, a University of Wisconsin-Madison study "estimated that 11.2 percent of the counties’ 160,000 registered nonvoters were kept from casting ballots by the voter ID law. Of those, they estimated that 6 percent were prevented from voting because they actually did not have an acceptable ID. Most of the remaining registrants possessed acceptable IDs, the study stated, but did not try to vote because they mistakenly believed that they would not be accepted. Of the survey respondents who said that the voter ID law deterred or prevented them from voting, about eight in 10 had voted in the previous presidential election, the survey showed."

When you weigh the risk of fraud against the risk of disenfranchising a significant number of voters, the choice is clear. We should not have requirements that make it more difficult for people to vote.

Voting rights across the US are currently under attack by the Election Integrity Committee formed by the President and led by Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach. Kobach has a long history of making exaggerated voter fraud allegations and pursuing policies that disenfranchise eligible voters. Rhode Islanders need to protect voting rights in our state despite pressure from the federal government. We can start by overturning the misguided voter ID law.

We are asking the Rhode Island General Assembly to pass a bill during the 2018 term repealing the Voter ID law. If you agree that the law needs to be repealed, please sign below to send a message to our State Senators and Representatives. We're hoping to get 1,000 signatures.

 



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