PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea today celebrated the passage of Automatic Voter Registration during a State House Library ceremony where Governor Raimondo signed the bill into law. Gorbea championed the legislation sponsored by Representatives David Coughlin, Jr. and Raymond Johnston, Jr., and by Senators Gayle Goldin, William Conley, Jr., Erin Lynch Prata, Joshua Miller, Maryellen Goodwin, Jeanine Calkin, Cynthia Coyne, James Seveney, Daniel Da Ponte, Donna Nesselbush, and Harold Metts. The new law will improve the integrity of Rhode Island voter lists by ensuring that a voter's information is up to date and accurate.
"I promised Rhode Islanders that I would work to ensure that elections in our state are fair, fast and accurate. Having clean voter lists is critical to preserving the integrity of our elections, which is why I made Automatic Voter Registration a priority of my administration, Secretary Gorbea said.
Automatic Voter Registration has gained bi-partisan popularity across the country as an effective way to clean up voter rolls. Rhode Island is the ninth state to enact such legislation and 32 states have introduced legislation to implement or expand automatic registration.
"We must do everything we can to help Rhode Islanders participate in and engage with government at every level," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "That means bringing our voting infrastructure into the 21st century. I am thankful to Secretary Gorbea and General Assembly leaders for working so hard to get this legislation to the finish line, increasing access and opportunity for all."
In Rhode Island, eligible citizens will automatically be registered to vote as they interact with the DMV. Those who do not wish to be registered can easily "opt out." Additionally, current Rhode Island voters who update their address with the DMV will benefit from automatically updating their voter registration information as well. This will help eliminate the bloat in the state's voter rolls resulting from unintentional, duplicate voter registrations and data entry errors.
"I thank Governor Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello, Senate President Ruggerio, our sponsors and the entire General Assembly for working with me and for their overwhelming support of legislation that will further our efforts to modernize elections in Rhode Island," Gorbea said.