With a new Senate bill on the table and the House Oversight Committee looking to make changes to election procedures in Rhode Island, it may be possible that the state’s newly implemented voter ID law will soon be yesterday’s news. Rhode Island passed the voter identification law in 2011, and 2012 marked the first election year when non-photo ID’s were required of all voters. Come 2014, photo ID’s will be required for Rhode Islanders to cast their votes, an issue that’s been a point of contention for voters and legislators alike. Thirty states currently have some sort of voter ID law, though most do not require photo identification; though for some states, like Rhode Island, that could change in the next few years. But freshman Senator Gayle Goldin (D-Providence) is hopeful a bill she’s introduced will erase the voter ID law from the books altogether. Goldin takes over long-time representative Rhoda Perry’s seat in District 3 and represents a chunk of the East Side of Providence. Goldin said she many constituent complaints about the voter ID law during her campaign in the fall. “My district [is] people who really believe in creating an equitable society and making sure the decisions we make statewide continue to respect and create that equitable society,” said Goldin.
At a community event Monday night Goldin elicited a round of applause from constituents when she talked about her voter ID repeal bill.
“It’s a fundamental issue,” she said. “It truly upset people to think we made a decision that affected people ability to vote.”
House Speaker Gordon Fox, who co-sponsored Rep. Jon Brien’s voter ID bill in 2011, is now closely monitoring feedback from the House Oversight Committee, which is currently holding hearings about the problems at the polls in November. House Communications Director, Larry Berman, said it’s possible that Fox would consider revising the voter ID law if it was seen as a major issue at the polls. Berman said Fox and other legislators will introduce legislation to address any major issues that presented themselves in last year’s elections.
Berman said Fox is looking at the provision that calls for a switch to photo ID in 2014; it’s possible, he said, that legislation could be introduced to keep the 2012 (non-photo ID) requirements in place instead.