It went mostly unnoticed as Americans took off on Friday for an extended holiday weekend, but Rhode Island is about to become the ninth state to automatically add to its voter rolls qualified citizens who do business with state agencies.
The state Senate approved an automatic registration bill on Friday that already had unanimously passed the House. Gov. Gina Raimondo is expected to sign it.
“True democracy depends on encouraging all citizens to vote, and finding ways to eliminate the roadblocks that prevent them from doing so. Automatic registration will help bring Rhode Island closer to that ideal,” said state Sen. Gayle Goldin (D), who sponsored the legislation in the Senate.
The national drive toward automatic registration began in 2015 in Oregon, spurring a 15,000-plus per day increase in the state’s voter rolls in just over four months, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Since then, automatic registration has been adopted by Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.. An automatic registration bill also has passed the Illinois legislature and is awaiting action by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who after vetoing similar legislation last year has indicated he’ll sign it.
“At a time when voter suppression efforts are on the rise, momentum for automatic voter registration is building across the country in red and blue state alike,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “Common Cause members and staff have played key roles in moving these measures forward to enable more Americans to have a voice in selecting their elected representatives.”
Issues: Voting and Elections