Voter ID and the Splintered Party

Your trusted blogger is back after a two-week hiatus - thanks to Dan McGowan for filling in while I was away - and while plenty of newsworthy stuff happened while I was gone, one story in particular stands out: the approval of voter identification legislation that requires citizens, starting next year, to present ID before voting.

The bizarre, misguided character of this legislation has been well-chronicled elsewhere: there is no evidence of serious voter fraud anywhere; and this solution in search of a problem threatens to disenfranchise the poor and elderly folk less likely to have identification.

It has also been pointed out that Rhode Island is the only state with a Democratic-controlled legislature that has passed voter ID legislation. Indeed, nationwide, voter ID legislation is a pet project of Republicans who are happy to disenfranchise a portion of the Democrats' base in the midst of their righteous defense of the republic.

But if there is a through-the-looking-glass feel to the bill's passage in Rhode Island, it also speaks to one of the truisms of Rhody politics: this one-party state is not really a one-party state. Conservative Democrats, some of whom would be Republicans anywhere else, are a force. They drove this legislation.

That, of course, doesn't explain why a liberal governor signed off on the bill. But Lincoln Chafee, as we all know by now, often defies explanation.

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