A diverse array of more than twenty organizations – including civil rights groups, labor unions, open government and community organizations, disability rights agencies and others – held a news conference this afternoon to criticize the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage last night of a bill that will impose a photo identification requirement on all Rhode Island voters.
If enacted, this bill could possibly lead to the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters in Rhode Island, and particularly racial minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities. No other northeastern state has passed a photo ID law which, as part of a systematic nationwide effort, has been seen by some as imposing one of the most serious obstacles to voting since the civil rights era. Groups also raised concerns about the costs, and pointed to studies showing that photo ID requirements had been implemented in a discriminatory manner elsewhere.
Among the organizations attending the news conference to criticize the bill’s committee passage were the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the RI Disability Law Center, Common Cause Rhode Island, the RI ACLU, the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights and the RI Coalition for the Homeless.