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Saturday, May 22, 2021

Secretary of State calls for passage of RI voting rights bill

Points to huge 2020 turn-out with no compromise in election security

Nellie M. Gorbea, RI Secretary of State 

Last October, the Center for Public Integrity flagged a number of barriers
to voting in RI. Most were suspended during the pandemic. The
Let Rhode Island Vote Act would have those changes permanent.
Last week, I had the honor of taking part in a press conference with the Rhode Island Voting Access Coalition and several legislators in support of the Let Rhode Island Vote Act

This important legislation continues the progress my office has made over the past six years to improve access to the ballot box while securing the integrity of every vote. 

I applaud Senator Dawn Euer and Majority Whip Katherine Kazarian for introducing the legislation, along with the large coalition of organizations who actively support it. 

Since April 2020, we have held four statewide elections in Rhode Island. This served as an extreme test case for elections reform. 

The good news is that the reforms we put into place resulted in more Rhode Islanders voting – without sacrificing the integrity of our elections. In the November general election, we saw more voters cast ballots than in any election in our state’s history, despite the pandemic. 

I was thrilled to see such record turnout. I was just as excited to see that voters cast ballots by mail, early in-person, or at a polling place on Election Day in nearly equal numbers. 

This shows they want options for when and how to vote. It also highlights the importance of providing access to voting. 

The Let Rhode Island Vote Act looks to do just that by making permanent many of the improvements we made during the pandemic, like expanded early in-person voting options and access to mail ballots. 

Elections should be about ensuring that voters can effectively and efficiently vote for the person they want to represent them. This is fundamental to our democracy. 

At a time when we see states working to restrict voting options for their citizens, Rhode Island must continue to be a leader in voting access. 

I urge the General Assembly to pass the Let Rhode Island Vote Act this year. Together, we can ensure Rhode Islanders continue to have safe and secure voting options so they can hold their government accountable.