Civil rights groups denounce voter identification law

PROVIDENCE, RI – A coalition of 15 civil rights groups is denouncing the state's new voter ID law. It requires voters to present a photo ID starting in 2014. But both the Governor and the Speaker of the House are defending the legislation.

The NAACP, the Coalition for the Homeless, Progreso Latino, and the ACLU are among 15 groups who have written a letter to the Governor calling the voter ID law a, "significant and shameful step backward".

Governor Lincoln Chafee, interviewed by NPR's "Tell Me More," says he was persuaded by two African American lawmakers, Representative Anastasia Williams and Senator Harold Metts, that it was needed.

"Most people have an identification," he says. "To think you can just go in and vote without showing who you are. I don't think that's that draconian."

House Speaker Gordon Fox, who initially opposed the bill, says he bowed to the wishes of his caucus.

"Listening to the representatives in my Chamber there was broad support and feel like it will enhance the voting experience," he says.

Critics say there is no evidence that voter fraud has been a problem in Rhode Island.

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