March 31, 2009

House Judiciary Committee Throws a Spanner into Voter ID

Monique Chartier

Chairman Lally and the House Judiciary Committee have voted to hold Bill H 5097 "AN ACT RELATING TO ELECTIONS - VOTER IDENTIFICATION" over "for further study". The vote to do so was thirteen to one; the one "nay" was Rep Rod Driver.

What aspect of this concept might still need to be studied?

Let's see, there's the question of necessity.

The lack of a photo ID system creates the perception of voter fraud, shakes voter confidence and leads to lack of voter participation

Some of us would have stated the case a little more strongly than Secretary of State Mollis in 2007 by omitting the words "the perception of" and by appending a long list of instances of voter fraud, including here in Rhode Island. Excessive tact aside, does the Committee disagree with the substance of the Secretary's statement?

Secondly, the potential that a financial burden might be placed on the voter by this new law. Ah, but Section 2(a) of the bill stipulates that

voter identification cards will be issued upon request, and at no expense to the voters ...

... to provide voter identification cards to those voters who do not possess the identification listed in subdivision (a)(1) and (2) above.

Thirdly, constitutionality. But surely the Committee would be pleased to learn that the US Supreme Court settled that issue last year in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board when they affirmed the State of Indiana's voter identification law. In the main opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote

The application of the statute to the vast majority of Indiana voters is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process

Necessity, cost, constitutionality - fully studied and answered. Why wasn't this bill given the green light to be voted on by the full House? Doesn't Rhode Island's electoral process deserve the same "integrity and reliability" as Indiana's?

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

"Doesn't Rhode Island's electoral process deserve the same "integrity and reliability" as Indiana's?"

Yes but that's a giant step. We need to pass Illinois first.

Posted by: Phil H at March 31, 2009 5:15 PM

Unless we make EVERYONE who wants to vote prove they are a US citizen as required by federal law,then it's all a waste of time.And this pile of turds in the GA will never have what it takes to put such a law through.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 31, 2009 6:38 PM

I don't get it, why did Brien and Palumbo vote to hold for further study? Both of these fine politicians have introduced bills to kill the 'illegal alien magnet' for Rhode Island? This would have helped a great deal so illegals don't vote for dingbats like Diarrheaz, Pisschardo, Segal and Slater?

Posted by: Roland at March 31, 2009 7:37 PM

Every bill heard before House Judiciary is "held for further study" as a matter of course at its first hearing. The vote is pro forma and taken at the beginning of each hearing. I personally think that it is kind of silly, but at the same time, there are times when holding a bill "for further study" is appropriate. Rep. Driver is probably right to object, also as a matter of course, to the blanket action taken by the Committee but some battles are worth fighting, some are not. That is why I and, I assume, other reps do not make it a point to object to the practice.

The bottom line is that if the Leadership wants to hold a vote on a bill they will. If they do not, they won't. This bill may well get passed. I suggest you petition the Speaker because I suspect there is support on the Committee and in the House as a whole for passing this bill but it needs to be green lighted first.

No, I agree the system does not make sense. But it is what it is.

Rep. Brian C. Newberry (R. North Smithfield / Burrillville)

Member House Committee on Judiciary

Posted by: Brian C. Newberry at March 31, 2009 9:16 PM

A right-wing nut, does NOT, have to show
an ID to buy a bazoka or a 50 cal.
that can take out a Bowing 747, or a Sherman tank,at a GUN SHOW !!!!!!

But you want my 91 year old mom,to show an ID to vote ?
Old Lady,you can buy a 50 cal. that can
kill 400 people, but you can not vote,
signed, Monique and Joe B.fron the

Posted by: Gun Nut dot com at March 31, 2009 10:00 PM

Thanks for the information, Rep Newberry.

If every bill is "held for further study as a matter of course at its first hearing", does that mean there will be a second vote on this bill to get it out of committee? If so, is it known when that vote will take place?

Posted by: Monique at March 31, 2009 10:48 PM

"A right-wing nut, does NOT, have to show an ID to buy a bazoka or a 50 cal. that can take out a Bowing 747, or a Sherman tank,at a GUN SHOW !!!!!!"

But a left-wing nut *does* have to show an ID? Now that's not fair.

Posted by: Patrick at April 1, 2009 6:04 AM

There are really only three options when a bill comes up for hearing - vote to send it to the floor for passage, vote to kill it, or "hold for further study."

I've seen a lot of bills come through there for hearings that were not necessarily bad ideas. Some were good ones that ought to pass. But many times the bill is flawed in some fashion - it could be drafted better or there is some aspect that was not considered. This, to me, is what "held for further study" should be used for - to allow people to amend bills and/or to come back later with answers to questions that arise during the hearing.

Of course the other reason you can hold something for further study is so that people get their ability to have their say, the press can cover the bill, etc. and then the bill can be quietly killed by never being allowed to see the light of day again - and no one need go on record in favor or opposed.

Thus far this session, every bill has been "held". However, several have indeed popped back up on the hearing calendar and been passed on a subsequent day and then sent to the floor where they have also been passed. Many more bills that are currently being held will probably also be passed in this fashion, likely after the April recess. At the moment, we are on schedule to finish hearings on all bills introduced prior to the normal February legislative deadline before the April recess, though there will be some late filed bills that will be heard later.

Why and when a bill gets put back on the committee calendar for a vote and who makes that decision among the leadership is a mystery to me.

Posted by: Brian C. Newberry at April 1, 2009 7:09 AM

"Why and when a bill gets put back on the committee calendar for a vote and who makes that decision among the leadership is a mystery to me."

What remains a mystery to me about the Assembly is why do they hold so much for the last week or the last day and then whine and kvetch all night about how hot it is, how long they've been there and how much they just want to get out. Why not start passing bills in January and vote on every bill on its own merit to the state? Why hold bills for later so that Rep X will get his passed only if he agrees to vote for Rep Y's bill. That's BS. And if you don't want to be there late one night working, then simply come back the next day and finish up. Why in the world does the Speaker set a date for the final session of the year and try to jam so much into it? WHy not just make "the last session" be whatever day that you get through all the bills? Why the crunch? I'll never get it.

If you've never watched the final night of Assembly session on Capitol TV, check it out sometime. It's maddening and will really sicken you to our state government.

Posted by: Patrick at April 1, 2009 7:48 AM

someone keeps sending these baffoons back to the GA. As long as they keep getting elected, nothing changes.

Posted by: kathy at April 1, 2009 2:23 PM
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