The Rhode Island Tea Party is cheering Governor Chafee for having signed legislation his office did not acknowledge he had signed, on Saturday, until mid-afternoon Tuesday.
In the absence of an earlier acknowledgment, the advocacy group Ocean State Action vehemently urged the governor to veto the so-called “voter identification” bill that, in future elections, will require voters to provide proof of their identity at the polls.
From Ocean State Action came this statement: “On the last day of the session, after an hour and a half of debate and against the strong objections of progressive legislators, the General Assembly passed a voter identification bill that will disenfranchise low-income voters, communities of color, the elderly and students across the state of Rhode Island.
“Not only is this legislation anti-democratic, but it comes at a great cost to the state. According to a recent study released by the Democratic National Committee implementation of voter identification will cost Rhode Island between $1.6 -$4.9 million. All to address the MYTH of voter fraud.”
From the Tea Party came this statement: “The members of the RI Tea Party thank the bipartisan effort of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate who supported the passage of VOTER ID…It provides that first step toward freedom from the manipulation of votes meant to benefit politicians and special-interest agendas, particularly in our urban areas.”
The governor’s office did not initially respond to inquiries about the two matching voter identification bills that cleared the General Assembly in the waning hours of the six-month legislative session that ended early Friday morning.
The Senate version was sponsored by Sen. Harold Metts, a Providence Democrat; the House version was sponsored by a bi-partisan group of legislators that included House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, Rep. Jon Brien, a Woonsocket Democrat, and Republicans Joseph Trillo of Warwick and Doreen Costa of North Kingstown.
But Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis’ office confirmed that Chafee, who was elected as an independent, signed the two bills on Saturday, on the same day he held a private signing ceremony for one of the most significant bills of the year, legalizing civil-unions for same-sex couples. That signing was reported after the fact by the governor’s office on Saturday.