General Assembly Approves Legislation Allowing Online Voter Registration

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


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The Rhode Island General Assembly has approved legislation to allow Rhode Islanders to register to vote or update their voter information online. The bill is now headed to the desk of Governor Raimondo. 

“It’s time to bring voter registration into the 21st century. Making voter registration available online means it’s conveniently accessible to Rhode Islanders 24 hours a day, so no matter how busy they may be or what kind of hours they work, they have the opportunity to be a registered voter. Electronic registration will encourage more Rhode Islanders, especially younger people, to register to vote by eliminating the necessity of having to get to City Hall during business hours, and will help get more people involved in the democratic process,” said Representative Aaron Regunberg

The legislation authorizes the secretary of state to establish a web portal to allow voters to register or update their existing registration information online. The bill would allow the Department of State to cross-reference application information with information in the database of other state, municipal or quasi-public agencies to verify the information by applicants. 

Electronic registration is a convenience to citizens and can also help eliminate errors and confusion while saving the state money, according to sponsors. 

“This legislation is a way to make government work more efficiently for citizens. Allowing people to type in their own information means no one has to transcribe handwritten applications, eliminating an opportunity for errors as well as a time-consuming task for public employees. At least one study has shown that the reduction in paperwork has saved the public money. And allowing voters the ability to check and update their registration records online can help eliminate hassles that might otherwise result in problems at the polls for them,” said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence). 

The bill also connects Rhode Island to a multi-state partnership to share electronic registration information, allowing the  Department of State to clean up voter rolls and maintain the integrity of the state's elections. 

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommended that all states implant online voter registration back in January of 2014. 


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