Mollis Recommends Photo ID for Rhode Island Voters

According to Elizabeth Gudrais of the Projo, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis has announced his plan to improve the voting process in Rhode Island…

Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis yesterday announced his ideas for improving the integrity of the voting system and increasing convenience for voters.
Among those ideas: requiring photo identification at the polls and allowing voting over several days.
The usual suspects object to the photo-ID requirement…
In particular, the groups — which included International Institute Rhode Island, the local affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rhode Island Disability Law Center — called the photo ID proposal “an overreaction to a largely nonexistent problem of alleged voter impersonation.” They ticked off statistics to show whom the measure might disenfranchise: More than 3 million Americans with disabilities do not possess a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID; 153,000 seniors who voted in Georgia in 2004 don’t have a government-issued photo ID; A 1994 study found that African-Americans in Louisiana were four to five times less likely than whites to have a photo ID.
Isn’t there an obvious compromise here, i.e. Sue Stenhouse’s proposal to issue voters photo-ID cards at the time they register to vote? (Former Councilwoman Stenhouse has been named the commission created by the Secretary of State to address election reform, and is therefore in a good position to advocate for her idea.)
The remainder of the Secretary of State’s proposals are…
  • Consider easing the requirements for absentee voting
  • Look at ways to clean up the voter rolls, such as decreasing obstacles to removing voters who have died, have moved or are registered at more than one address
  • Consider ways to increase voting booth privacy, such as adding curtains to booths
  • Consider expanding the no-canvassing zone around polling places from the current radius of 50 feet
  • Standardize training and compensation for poll workers across the state
  • Revisit the voter registration form, and consider requiring additional documentation and proof of residency
  • Examine poll opening and closing times, and
  • Study expanding in-person registration of voters by trained and authorized canvassing agents
I know that a few of these proposals, like adding curtains to voting booths seem trite. And Secretary Mollis is something of a controversial figure in Rhode Island politics. Still, I don’t remember the previous office holder paying quite so much attention to the basic duties of the Office of the Secretary of State.

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