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Secretary of State Mollis Announces That Legislation Protecting Voters in Line When Polls Close Becomes Law

Legislation from Secretary of State Mollis That Protects Voters Becomes Law PROVIDENCE, RI -- Legislation from Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis ensuring that voters who are in line when their polling place closes will be allowed to cast ballots becomes law.

The legislation was prompted by reports that officials at least one Providence polling place scrambled to get voters standing in line outside into the building before the doors closed at 8 p.m. Under previous law, only voters who were inside their polling place at closing time were guaranteed the right to cast a ballot.

"Last November, a perfect storm of events resulted in long lines at some polling places. Although we will probably never see lines stretching out the door again, we wanted the law to be clear that every vote must be counted," said Mollis.

Mollis asked state Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Providence) and state Sen. James Sheehan (D-Narragansett, North Kingstown) to introduce the legislation, which was co-sponsored by state Rep. Maria Cimini (D-Providence) and state Senators Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket, North Providence), Harold Metts (D-Providence), Susan Sosnowski (D-South Kingstown, New Shoreham) and Elizabeth Crowley (D-Central Falls, Pawtucket).

"Anyone who is willing to wait outside to do their civic duty should not be turned away. This bill would make sure that every registered voter who wants to vote gets to vote," said Ajello.

"This is a straightforward way to make sure our elections are open to every registered voter who shows up on time," said Sheehan.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293


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  • Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State
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  • Release date: 06-06-2013

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