RE: Voter ID Surprise

Justin wonders if there’s a catch with the ease with which voter ID sailed through the legislature and the Governor’s inbox. Here’s a theory for you: RI GOP Chair Ken McKay was in for WHJJ’s Helen Glover this morning and had on someone from GOLOCALProv touting their story about the disparity between census data and voter rolls in traditional Rhode Island “vacation” communities. They didn’t go over specific numbers, but here they are:

A comparison of the new U.S. Census data with public voter registration records revealed significant discrepancies in at least four communities in 2010:
■ Block Island had 888 year-round residents aged 18 years and older recorded in the Census while 1,468 people were registered to vote—a difference of 65 percent.
■ Jamestown had 362 more registered voters than residents.
■ Little Compton had 236 more voters than residents.
■ Westerly had 2,289 more voters than residents—a discrepancy of more than 15 percent. (See below chart for the complete breakdown.)

Admitting he was cynical, McKay tied Voter ID into it and wondered if GOLOCAL was tipped off to the disparity by someone looking to suppress conservative-leaning, shoreline property owning (and property-tax paying) out-of-staters from voting in Rhode Island. As McKay pointed out, RISC started as the Rhode Island SHORELINE Coalition (since renamed the RI STATEWIDE Coalition) and advocated for voting rights for those who owned property in Rhode Island. He also prompted the GOLOCAL editor to give RISC a call for their thoughts. Further along in the piece, the possible repercussions are raised:

[T]he new state law on voter ID could have an impact on the number of vacationing New Yorkers and others voting in Rhode Island elections. The law mandates that voters show a photo ID at polling places. “If they produce a New York license that doesn’t work because you can’t have a New York license that has a Rhode Island address,” said the former state election official.
Instead, out-of-state voters would have to bring a passport, birth certificate, or other form of ID in order to satisfy the new rules.

Overall, the estimate is that there are around 10,000 out-of-state voters voting in Rhode Island. They can vote here if they declare RI as their legal residence and don’t vote elsewhere.

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12 years ago

“If they produce a New York license that doesn’t work because you can’t have a New York license that has a Rhode Island address”
And what’s keeping folks from getting an ID in Rhode Island in addition to NY? I know you’re not supposed to be able to, but I’ve had years fly by here when the city forgot to mail me a tax bill, or the DMV took three years to find my title. I held Rhode Island and Massachusetts licenses simultaneously for a while.
Unless the new system at the DMV does some sort of rigorous verification of a person’s status elsewhere, I don’t see how they can prevent out-of-towners from getting licenses here. Not that I think this is that much of a big deal.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
12 years ago

Judging from the three towns named, I suspect a lot of New Yorks are claiming a domicile in RI. One of the primary indices is where you register to vote. I know nothing of New York taxes, so it is only a suspicion.
I know quite a few RI “residents” who are “domiciled” in Flordia (no estate tax). They wouldn’t dare register to vote in RI, RI might claim an estate tax (Mass. v. Joseph P. Kennedy). That is why Teddy Kennedy had 3 homes, none in his name.

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