The Mansfield board of selectmen chair Olivier Kozlowski says Massachusetts is slowly coming closer to the possibility of a voter ID bill.
A new initiative, which will be on the district ballots in the first, fourth and sixth Bristol districts, will be voted on come November as a non-binding vote to show support for the initiative.
“It gets a much better feel for what people in the district actually think about it,” he said. “Hopefully, without a big argument or big campaign from either side for or against…It gauges the opinion of each district.”
Kozlowski said he worked with Peter Sacks at the Attorney General’s Office to work on the language of the bill. The ultimate approval, even after possible support, would be up to the Attorney General. By working with the office, Kozlowski said, the chances of getting the correct language and adherences to current law are high.
The ballot question will, in effect, put out feelers for support of the bill.
Last year, Kozlowski and many other supporters of such a motion on the ballot come this November, but was shot down by Attorney General Martha Coakley, who said the cost of procuring a legal photo identification disenfranchises many voters.
The petition also failed to achieve the required 68,911 petition signatures to get a statewide question on the ballot.
This non-binding vote can work in two ways, Kozlowski said, in that the Massachusetts legislature may see strong support of the bill and sign it in or it could expedite the process in the next two years for a statewide ballot.
“Conceivably, it could also color how legislators feel about it,” he said. “The next state legislature who takes office in 2013 will consider that [non binding vote] as part of the legislative process. If the legislature says ‘you know wow, this passed overwhelmingly in all three districts… they could say that we don’t have to go through the petition process again.”
Mansfield precincts 2, 3 and 6 (about half of Mansfield), Norton, Fall River and Foxboro will have the question on their ballots.
Many detractors from the bill say that such a law would disenfranchise many voters of low-income, certain age groups or minorities.
An estimated 15-percent of people without identification earn less than $35,000 a year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. In terms of ethnicity, 25-percent are Black, 20 percent are Asian, and 19 percent are Latino. For age groups, 18 percent are seniors and another 18 percent are 18-to-24-year-olds.
Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota and Rhode Island now require photo identifications.
It now also looks like Pennsylvania will require a photo id for voting. Precedent for voter fraud using impersonation only shows 10 cases found since 2000 in the U.S., but other cases of voter fraud, on both Democratic and Republican sides of the spectrum, have been found.