Fifteen minority, civil-rights, open government and social-service organizations have sent Governor Chafee a letter criticizing his decision to sign voter-ID legislation into law. The new law requires voters to present photo ID to vote, a law that the letter’s senders called “a significant and shameful step backward in the fight for equality at the voting booth.”
The letter also challenges Chafee’s claim that he spoke “with representatives of our state’s minority communities,” and “found their concerns about voter fraud and their support for this bill particularly compelling.”
“With respect, we would appreciate learning exactly who these representatives of minority communities you talked to are. None of our groups, representing a wide array of minority community constituencies in Rhode Island, has ever expressed support for this bill,” the letter states. “Further, to our knowledge, not one organization representing minority communities testified in support of this bill at either the House or Senate committee hearings.”
The letter notes that while “some minority legislators actively supported the bill … it is no reflection on them to note that their own understandable vested interests in the electoral process might differ somewhat from minority community organizations on an issue like this.”
Among the groups signing the letter are the NAACP Providence Branch, the Univocal Legislative Minority Advisory Coalition, Progreso Latino, Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, the Providence Youth Student Movement, Common Cause Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, and the Rhode Island Disability Law Project.
Chafee spokesman Steve Hourihan said the governor had read the letter but does not have second thoughts.