Skip to comments.Liberals, Democrats stunned by RI passage of voter ID
Posted on 07/12/2011 5:47:05 PM PDT by DeaconBenjamin
When a voter ID bill passed in Rhode Island last week, longtime opponents were stunned. How could this happen in one of the countrys most Democratic and liberal states? Why did Democratic leaders and black legislators support it? And why did Governor Chafee sign it?
Some say black politicians were trying to protect themselves from Hispanics growing political power two longtime black legislators were defeated by Hispanics in the 2010 elections. Some cite illegal immigration as a driving force. Some say voter ID is simply essential.
Whatever the reason, [ideologues] are still seething a week later. That includes many within the minority community, who chide Chafee for saying he was compelled by concerns from the minority community about voter fraud.
Many organizations are deeply troubled by the governors erroneous comments that the legislation had the support of the minority community. In fact, there is not one organization from the minority community that supported this bill, said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Rather, groups like the NAACP and the R.I. Commission for Human Rights were among the strongest opponents of the legislation. In addition, groups that represent other vulnerable minority populations such as the homeless, the poor and people with disabilities also uniformly objected to the legislation and its potential impact on the right to vote.
Brown said organizations are circulating a letter expressing their concern about the governors stated justification for signing the bill.
This year, voter-ID legislation was backed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, including two prominent black lawmakers: House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and Sen. Harold M. Metts. Sen. Juan M. Pichardo, the first Latino elected to a Rhode Island Senate seat and the first Dominican-American elected to a state senate seat in the country, also supported it. Fox, Metts and Pichardo are Providence Democrats.
Chafee signed the bill into law on July 2, despite opposition from minority and civil-rights groups. Rhode Island Tea Party members celebrated. The signing also heartened members of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, whose executive director, Terry Gorman, says he believes illegal immigrants have voted in Rhode Island, and this will make them give up.
At least one prominent Latino activist believes the black political establishment reacted to a growing Hispanic voting bloc.
The only thing I can think about is that African-Americans are somehow feeling that the growth of the Latino community is a threat to their election, Pablo Rodriguez said last week. Any politician that lives in Providence has to feel the presence of the Latino community. It does not matter what district he or she is in. And they will feel it more in the next election.
Rodriguez, a physician, helped found Latino Public Radio, as well as the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee, which supports candidates of Hispanic or Latino heritage seeking local and state office.
Black lawmakers deny race was a motivating factor.
Metts, who was the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said constituents both African-American and Latino have complained to him about voter fraud for almost two decades.
I really had to look at myself and say, If fraud is really happening, how long are you going to bury your head in the sand as to what is actually happening, as opposed to [worry about] the disenfranchisement that could happen?
State Rep. Anastasia P. Williams, a Providence Democrat who also pushed strongly for the legislation, agreed. She argues that voter fraud, at the very least, exists in her district. She says she was a victim of voter fraud during the 2006 election.
This has nothing to do with being African-American and feeling any pinch, said Williams, who considers herself both African-American and Latino. To take the issue and make it an African-American versus Latino-American thing is totally, totally a farce. Its sad to even bring that up because there will be individuals that will use that as an excuse.
That prominent Democrats were involved at all was surprising to some. Nationally, the Democratic Party has by and large opposed voter ID. But the Rhode Island Democratic Party, its state affiliate, did not take an official position on the issue.
Metts rejects national Democratic arguments that liken voter ID to the Jim Crow laws that denied Southern blacks the right to vote.
I didnt come into politics to be a yes man. If I think something is right, I am going to support it. If its wrong, Im going to oppose it, he said. Im all for party loyalty, but God gave me a brain and I use it.
Pichardo, a Democrat who formerly served on the secretary of states Voters First Advisory Commission, said he initially shared some opponents concerns. He believes new parameters address that, including that the state will provide free ID to those who need it.
I think when we see a problem and we try to address it, we have to try to improve the system that the government has and if we find some solution and move forward, we ensure more people are aware of it and no one stays behind, and that they are voting.
The question about whether voter ID unfairly targets Latinos follows an election in which at least two Latino candidates in Providence edged out black candidates in their traditional political strongholds.
In Ward 11, which represents Upper South Providence, Davian Sanchez, a 21-year-old of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, fought through a four-way Democratic primary to claim a seat held for nearly 25 years by Balbina A. Young, a black councilwoman.
And Joseph S. Almeida Jr., a Cape Verdean-American, lost his bid for reelection as state representative from House District 12, which represents Washington Park and much of Providences South Side, to Leo Medina, who was born in the Dominican Republic.
Tony Affigne, a political science professor at Providence College, said he does not believe self-preservation was the primary motivating factor for black politicians to back voter identification. But he questions whether such a Draconian statewide response was needed.
I do not believe that they are acting because they are trying to game the system, Affigne said of Metts and Williams. But they are mistaken about the extent of the problem and the solution that they have settled on is tragic.
Determined people will find a way around even the new ID requirements, he argued. He said the solution is to increase penalties and boost the investigatory powers of the state Board of Elections and the attorney generals office.
This city is flooded with fake IDs. Who believes requiring them will actually prevent vote fraud?
Democrats are usually adamantly opposed to voter ID laws.
I've never understood why. /s
Go Hispanics! They’ll be a lot more conservative than black (or white)Dems.
It’s interesting to see that the Dems are totally opposed to voter ID unless they think it will benefit them.
In this case, I’d say it probably won’t, but being a Dem means never having to say you’r sorry...
speaking of forgery...
RI is an interesting state. It is not nearly as liberal at heart as it seems. It is great that blacks are starting to wakeup to the cost of illegal immigration.
“It is great that blacks are starting to wakeup to the cost of illegal immigration”
That would have been the loss of two black legislators to two Hispanics. LOL
Our elections will continue to be fiascos until EVERYONE is required to show an I.D. in order to vote and steps are taken to stop the dead from voting and the piggies from voting multiple time. Right now, our “elections” are a big joke. If you are such a lowlife that you can’t produce an I.D. to vote, you shouldn’t be voting anyway.
Damnit! Now the dead can’t vote! RAWR! /sarc
Man, have you ever got that right.
Of course, saying "I'm sorry" requires a conscience, or at least a functioning level of intellectual honesty, neither of which burden any liberal.
I’ve known a number of Hispanics via the Air Force career and it will shock people that a vast number of Hispanics tend to be Catholic and family-orientated. You might find a first generation family leaning toward the Democrats...but I think it goes the other direction. In the long run...I don’t think this is a four-star strategy.
The question isn’t why the Democrats are so against any kind of voter ID; it’s why did they support this in RI.
Wouldn’t it be great if the Democrats cared as much about avoiding disenfranchising real voters by preventing vote fraud as they care about all those imaginary voters who somehow can’t get IDs?
Democrats react to voter ID laws like a vampire to garlic.
Wow, a trifecta! Female, AA, AND Latino. Is she gay perchance?
I’ll know the New Millenium has arrived when Chicago starts asking for an id. State law allows it and many communities around the City require them but I have never been asked for an id in 43 yrs of voting.
Now there’s a concept. Let’s persuade blacks and Hispanics to support anti-fraud efforts to prevent each other from rigging elections. Won’t that burn the shorts of the leftists?
4473 style paperwork and NICS background check for all voting. This will cure much of the voter fraud out there and anyone that doesn’t support it cannot in good faith support the same to buy a gun.
If it’s good enough to justify owning a gun, it’s good enough to justify to vote.
So blacks there are worried about Hispanics displacing them. Ok, makes sense. But then how would Voter ID help, when we’re ALWAYS being told that there is no fraud? Perhaps many of these new Hispanic voters haven’t quite gotten around to taking an oath of citizenship...perhaps?