Rhode Island, a state dominated by liberal voters and a Democratic legislature, has committed an epic party foul by passing a voter ID bill. In most of the country, voter ID has been a strictly partisan issue, supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. But in defending his decision to sign the bill, Independent Governor (and former Republican Senator) Lincoln Chafee said, “I’m all for party loyalty, but God gave me a brain and I use it.” We could argue the point, but what good would that do? Rather, we should chalk this loss up to a minor fumble by Democrat activist groups, and understand that even states are not immune from Napoleon complexes. It happens.
So, what’s the lesson here? First, voter ID legislation has moved beyond a pissing match between Republicans and Democrats. Second, fear of voter fraud is gaining momentum. Chafee even said “I spoke with representatives of our state's minority communities, and I found their concerns about voter fraud and their support for this bill particularly compelling.”
He’s taking some heat for that, with there being only the smallest possible evidence of voter fraud in any state. But in Rhode Island, I guess small is relative.