PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is urging Tollgate High School students to register to vote when he stages a voter registration drive at the Warwick school Oct. 5 at 10 a.m.
"People who register to vote are more likely to become engaged and effective citizens of Rhode Island. Some of these individuals will become our next generation of leaders. Now is the time to reach out to them," said Mollis.
Thalia Wood of Tollgate coordinated the drive in partnership with the state Board of Elections and Dorothy McCarthy of the Warwick Board of Canvassers.
"I am grateful to our partners for their commitment to this important initiative. Our success will pay dividends for decades to come as these new voters cast ballots election after election," said Mollis.
The Tollgate drive comes as the deadline nears to register to vote in order to be eligible to cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election. Oct. 7 is the deadline to register or re-register if you have changed your name or moved since the last time you voted as required by state law.
In order to register and vote, you must be 18 years old by Nov. 6, a resident of Rhode Island and a U.S. citizen. Students who will not be 18 by Election Day can pre-register to vote.
In addition to the presidential election, November's ballot will include races for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives as well as many General Assembly seats and local offices. In addition, there will be two questions that would amend the state constitution to allow an expansion of gaming at Twin River and Newport Grand and five bond issues authorizing the sale of $209 million in bonds for uses including affordable housing, clean water, the environment, higher education and the construction of a new Veterans' Home and renovations to existing facilities.
Mollis will visit Tollgate as part of his "Voters in the Classroom" initiative, which targets high school and college students. He has been staging voter registration drives at Rhode Island high schools and colleges leading up to the 2012 elections.
"An informed electorate is the keystone of democracy. This outreach is producing a new generation of voters and citizens committed to making their voices heard," Mollis said.
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 in November's election.
"The growth in our state will come from reaching out to newly eligible groups like high school students," said Mollis.
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 miss the voter registration drive are still in luck. Mollis posts voter registration forms and answers to frequently asked questions on his website at sos.ri.gov.
The Secretary of State's office maintains the state's voter registration database, encourages 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.