PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Students and staff at four Rhode Island high schools will get a practical lesson in civics when the office of Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis stages voter registration drives on campus next week.
"Registering to vote is the first step in becoming an engaged and effective citizen of our state. Some of these young people will turn out to be our next generation of leaders," said Mollis.
His office will visit North Smithfield High School and Coventry High School Mon., May 6; West Warwick High School Tues., May 7; and Chariho High School Wed., May 8.
Students and staff can also update their voter registration. State law requires voters to re-register if they have changed their name or moved since the last time they voted.
Pat Paul of the North Smithfield Board of Canvassers, Lori Anderson of the Coventry Board of Canvassers, Judy Clark of the West Warwick Board of Canvassers and Deborah Chipman of the Richmond Town Clerk's office coordinated the drives in partnership with Mollis, the state Board of Elections and school administrators.
"Their commitment to this important initiative deserves to be recognized. Their efforts will bear fruit 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 who will not turn 18 by Election Day 2014, can pre-register to vote.
The outreach is part of Mollis' "Voters in the Classroom" initiative. He plans to stage voter registration drives at high schools and colleges throughout Rhode Island leading up to the 2014 elections.
"A knowledgeable electorate is the foundation of a strong democracy. These visits will create a new generation of voters and citizens with a passion for civic involvement," 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.
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.
"Reaching out to them now makes it more likely they will become active and stay active," said Mollis.
Students and staff who miss the voter registration drive are still in luck. Mollis posts voter registration forms and answers to frequently asked questions on his web site 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.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293