An out of town view on Rhode Island’s Voter ID law
Here are the key take-aways:
1) Republicans in DC are holding up Rhode Island as an example of how Voter ID is a good thing.
Republicans have been happily invoking the law to rebut liberal accusations that voter ID laws are reviving Jim Crow-era tactics to disenfranchise minorities. If voter fraud is indeed taking place in Rhode Island, it would lend some credence to GOP talking points. But does the Rhode Island law actually represent good faith electoral reform?
2) An undercurrent of tension between blacks and Latinos helped to propel support for the law, as did anecdotal accounts of voter fraud.
Such anxiety, if not outright animosity, seems to have infiltrated traditionally liberal, African American ranks. Luis Aponte, a City Council member of Puerto Rican descent, told me that in the past decade, an “us versus them” mentality has proliferated between blacks and Hispanics. “Neighborhoods in the South Side [of Providence], in the eighties and nineties, [were] exclusively represented by African American officials.” Now, most of those seats are occupied by Hispanics.
3) The Voter ID law reflects the conservative bent in politics in RI. And the law doesn’t seem likely to go away anytime soon.