Rhode Island is now the ninth state in the country to enact Automatic Voter Registration (AVR).
“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 enacting Automatic Voter Registration a priority” said Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea in a news release touting Governor Raimondo’s signing of the bill. “Automatic Voter Registration will help reduce the bloat in our voter rolls resulting from unintentional, duplicate voter registrations and help increase voter participation. I thank Governor Raimondo for signing this important election reform bill into law. I also thank House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio; our sponsors Representative David Coughlin, Jr. and Senator Gayle Goldin; and the entire General Assembly for their overwhelming support of legislation that will further our efforts to modernize and maintain the integrity of elections in Rhode Island.”
AVR makes two big changes to voter registration:
- Eligible citizens who interact with government agencies are registered to vote unless they decline.
- Agencies transfer voter registration information electronically to election officials.
These two changes create a seamless process that is more convenient and less error-prone for both voters and government officials, according to those who support Automatic Voter Registration who also believe that this policy boosts registration rates, cleans up the rolls, makes voting more convenient, and reduces the potential for voter fraud, all while lowering costs.
So far in 2017, 32 states have introduced legislation to implement or expand automatic registration (and one more state has an AVR bill that carried over from 2016).