PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Nearly 240 students registered to vote when elections officials visited Mt. Hope High School Wednesday as part of a statewide voter registration drive.
"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 in November's election.
"Most Rhode Islanders are already registered. The growth in our state will come from reaching out the newly eligible groups like high school and college students," said Mollis.
The stop at MHHS was a partnership with the state Board of Elections, school administrators and Bristol Town Clerk Louis Cirillo and Warren Town Clerk Julie Coelho. The drive in the school's auditorium netted 237 new voters
"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 has staged drives at high schools all over Rhode Island 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 answers to frequently asked questions.
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 and distributes handbooks that explain how to run for office, how to register to vote and how to vote.
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.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293