PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is urging Exeter-West Greenwich High School students to register to vote during a drive at school Tues., March 12.
"Young 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.
Sharon Pelser from the Exeter Board of Canvassers and Holly Howard from the West Greenwich Board of Canvassers 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 new voters cast ballots election after election," said Mollis.
In order to register, you must be 18 years old by Nov. 4, 2014, a resident of Rhode Island and a U.S. citizen. Students who are at least 16 years old, but will not turn 18 by Election Day 2014, can pre-register to vote.
The outreach is part of Mollis' "Voters in the Classroom" initiative, which targets high school and college students. He plans to stage voter registration drives at Rhode Island high schools and colleges leading up to the 2014 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 were eligible to vote in last 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 of eligible 18-to-24-year-old Rhode Islanders actually voted in that election.
Students who miss the voter registration drive are still in luck. They can find voter registration forms and answers to frequently asked questions here.
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.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293