September 21, 2014
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Voter IDs and polling at Shalom
Jessica Botelho
POLLING PLACE: In addition to being a venue for the issuing of voter IDs, Shalom Apartments at 1 Shalom Drive will also serve as a polling place during elections. Here, resident Millie Punzi has her photo taken by Anna Rivera, an election specialist for the Secretary of State.

"It’s a good idea.”

That was the overall response of residents at Shalom Apartments at 1 Shalom Drive when asked how they felt about voter identification cards. The cards are being made and issued to individuals who want to vote but don’t have, or don’t want to get, a driver’s license.

To assist residents of Shalom, who are exclusively senior citizens, two employees of the Rhode Island Secretary of State visited the complex yesterday and issued at least 20 cards from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

“It’s to prevent voter fraud,” said Millie Punzi, a Shalom resident who is also a member of the facility’s tenant association. “To me, that’s the most important thing. What’s more important than voting?”

Her friends, Corrine Resnick and Suzanne Collins, also members of the tenant association, agree.

“It’s good, especially for people who can’t get out or don’t have a driver’s license,” Resnick said. “The fact that they are having it right here in the building helps all those people out.”

Collins shared her sentiments.

“I don’t drive and I don’t have an ID, so it will help me,” she said.

To be clear, the ID card is strictly intended for voting purposes. It is the shape and size of a standard license but it simply lists an individual’s birth month and date (but not the year) with a photo of them.

“We don’t want it to be used for a fake ID,” said Anna Rivera, an election specialist for the Secretary of State. Claudia Cronejo, a business information specialist, accompanied her. “The poll workers match the name and face to the picture on the card.”

Since January, said Rivera, they’ve issued 647 cards.

“The population is really not that high, as far as who needs these IDs,” she said.

Rivera also said there has been some confusion revolving around the issue. Many people are under the impression that they need the voter ID card even with a valid driver’s license but that is not the case.

“It’s not an addition,” Rivera said.

Shalom will be a polling place for the primary and general elections this year. Shalom’s Executive Director Bonnie Sekeres and Administrative Assistant Martha Wexler said they are ecstatic about that.

“We are thrilled that they will be able to vote here,” Sekeres said.

Wexler added, “We’ve been wanting to be a polling place for a while and our wish came true. A lot of people who live in elderly housing don’t drive and if their family isn’t local, they have no way to get access to an ID. We have people who are vision-impaired, hearing-impaired, people in wheelchairs who can’t get out to public places. To have them come here is really great.”

Activities Director Ellen Shaw feels the same.

“It’s wonderful for the elderly,” she said. “Now, there’s no excuse not to vote.”

To learn more, call 222-2340 or visit sos.ri.gov.


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