PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Ninety-six students registered to vote during a visit East Providence High School by state and local elections officials today as part of a statewide voter registration initiative.
"Students who register to vote are more likely to become active and informed citizens of this state. Some of these young people will be our leaders of tomorrow. Now is the time to engage them," said Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
His emphasis on young people reflects the success of voter registration activities over the past few years. More than 700,000 Rhode Islanders are eligible to vote.
"Nearly 9 out of 10 eligible Rhode Islanders are already registered. The growth in our state will come from reaching out the newly eligible groups like high school," said Mollis.
Leslie Shattuck-Moore, East Providence Canvassing Administrator, coordinated the drive in partnership with the state Board of Elections and school administrators.
"I am grateful to our partners for their commitment to this important initiative. Our success will pay dividends for decades to come as these youngsters exercise their right to vote election after election," Mollis said.
The Secretary of State's office is visiting Rhode Island high schools leading up to the 2012 elections. In order to register and vote, students must be U.S. citizens, residents of Rhode Island and at least 18 years old by Election Day.
"An informed electorate is the keystone of democracy. Our visit produced a new generation of voters and citizens committed to making their voices heard," Mollis said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 48.2 percent of eligible 18-to-24-year-old Rhode Islanders were registered to vote on Election Day 2010. Just 39.2 percent actually voted in that election.
Students who missed the drive visit are still in luck. Here are voter registration forms and FAQs.
The Secretary of State's office prepares the ballots for all federal, state and municipal elections held in Rhode Island. In addition, the office maintains the state's central voter registration system, promotes voter registration and turnout and creates guides to running for office and voting.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier to vote, making it easier to do business in Rhode Island and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov.