PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea announced today key measures that will clean up Rhode Island's voter rolls. "When I ran for Secretary of State, I told Rhode Islanders that having clean voter lists was critical to preserving the integrity of our elections and ensure that elections are fair, fast and accurate. We've been hard at work implementing state of the art technology and new systems. Today, I am announcing measures that are cleaning up our voter rolls in full adherence to the protections of state and federal law: (1) vigilant maintenance of our Central Voter Registry, (2) membership in the multi-state Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), (3) updates through the US Postal Service Change of Address system, and (4) voter updates through our online voter registration system. I hope to add Automatic Voter Registration to these measures as well."
1. Vigilant maintenance of our Central Voter Registry: A critical component in maintaining the state's voter rolls is the state's Central Voter Registration System (CVRS). Maintenance of the CVRS is highly regulated by state and federal law to protect voter rights. The process to remove the records of those citizens who are no longer Rhode Island voters is deliberate and time-consuming. Working with local cities and towns, however, Secretary Gorbea has legally identified and worked with local cities and towns to remove nearly 66,000 registrations from Rhode Island's voter rolls.
"Voters lead busy lives. It's easy for a state's voter rolls to become bloated over the years with the names of voters who have moved or passed away," Secretary Gorbea said. "We have been working to identify these voters as quickly as possible and make it easier for cities and towns to remove them in a manner that complies with very specific state and federal laws."
2. Membership in multi-state ERIC: Immediately after being inaugurated in 2015, Secretary Gorbea moved to have Rhode Island join ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center). ERIC is a multi-state partnership that compares voting lists and other federal records like the Social Security Death Master File. By December 2016, ERIC identified roughly 38,000 voter registrations for voters who may have moved or passed away, or are duplicative in some way. In March 2017, the Department of State mailed 26,000 voters who were identified as moving within Rhode Island and 8,500 voters who moved to one of the 21 other ERIC jurisdictions (20 states, plus DC) with instructions for updating their voter registration information.
3. Updates through US Postal Service Change of Address system: In addition, the Department of State is working with local cities and towns to reach out to registered voters who have filed a change-of-address with the United States Postal Service within the past two years. Roughly 53,000 voters who are registered in Rhode Island will receive a mailing at their new address and their previous address. This mailing will include instructions on how to update their voter registration.
"I'm making a call to all Rhode Islanders to join me in cleaning up our voter rolls. Any Rhode Island voter that receives a postcard or mailing regarding their voter registration status, should follow the simple instructions on the card," Secretary Gorbea said. "You can help us clean up the voter rolls while protecting the sacred right to vote."
4. Voter updates through Online Voter Registration: Last year, Secretary Gorbea worked with the General Assembly and the Governor to successfully enact Online Voter Registration. Online Voter Registration makes it easy for voters to update their own voter registration information. Since its implementation in August of last year, over 26,000 eligible Rhode Islanders have securely registered or updated their voter registration information online. Passage of Automatic Voter Registration legislation, currently under consideration, would further bolster efforts by allowing the state to automatically update Rhode Island voters' information and register eligible citizens when they interact with the DMV.
This summer, the Department of State is also expanding efforts to identify non-residential addresses that may have been entered into the Central Voter Registration System and notify local elections authorities of any discrepancies.
Rhode Island voters who wish to update their voter registration information can go to www.vote.ri.gov to update their information online. Voters may also contact the Department of State's Election Division by calling 401.222.2340 or contact their local board of canvassers.
Cleanup By The Numbers:
Voter Registrations Removed - Jan 2015 - Present
Deceased Voters: 20,101 Duplicates: 8,474 Moved out of State: 5,638 Authorized Cancellation: 1,469 National Change of Address: 3,586 Inactive for two Federal elections: 26,565
Total:65,833 Outreach to identified voter registrations - March 2017 – August 2017
ERIC – In state movers: 26,000 ERIC – Out of state movers: 8,500 National Change of Address: 52,949