Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has rejected as unconstitutional a ballot initiative filed by Mansfield Selectman Olivier Kozlowski that would require voters to show government-issued identification at the polls. Kozlowski vowed Thursday to appeal the decision to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.
In a written decision filed Wednesday, Coakley’s Deputy Chief Peter Sachs said requiring voters to have a government ID, which in Massachusetts costs at least $25, would violate the right to free elections in the state constitution.
“Although this may not be a significant burden for those citizens who already have or would obtain such identification for other purposes (e.g., a drivers’ license or state identification card),” Sachs wrote, “it would be an unconstitutional burden for citizens who do not otherwise have such identification and cannot afford it.”
Sachs said voter ID requirements in other states that have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court were different from Kozlowski’s initiative because those states offer free state IDs. But on Thursday, Kozlowski, a lawyer by trade, said he does not believe the constitutional objection is settled law and questioned whether the attorney general can throw out the initiative before it gets to voters.