Automatic Voter Registration & Early VotingPASSED (AVR)
Category: 2017 Voting Rights
The Secretary of State's Office has submitted two bills that would make voting and registering for accessible for all Rhode Islanders.
The Early Voting bill would establish a process for in-person early voting in Rhode Island. Early voting is a key way of increasing the ability of the public to exercise the franchise. The long lines that awaited some voters at polling places in the last general election – and many other past elections – confirm the utility of this approach, which a majority of states have already adopted in one form of another. The ACLU particularly applauds the fact that this bill, in order to best promote its goal, contains provisions for early voting periods that include weekends and at least some late evenings.
Additionally, legislation for Automatic Voter Registration would allow individuals who go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain or renew a driver's license document to easily register to vote if they certify that they are eligible to do so. The passage of this important legislation is another important step in making the voter registration process easier and more accessible. At the end of May, an amended version of AVR (H-5702A) was unanimously passed by the House and at the end of June the Senate also passed this legislation. After being signed by the Governor in July, RI has become the ninth state to pass AVR following states like Oregon and Illinois. AVR is expected to register thousands of eligible voters once the software is implemented at the DMV.
To read the ACLU's testimony on these bills and others regarding elections, click here.