Voting is a fundamental right. Currently, 33 states allow citizens to cast their ballot in-person before Election Day, but Rhode Island is not one of them. Rhode Islanders should have the option to cast their ballot prior to Election Day, including during the evening and on weekends.
Rhode Island saw explosive growth in the use of mail ballots in 2016 and our elections strained under the pressure. Common Cause supports a system of real early voting to meet the demand of voters and maintain the integrity of the system. The Bay State adopted early voting last year and one out of three voters used the new system.
Rhode Island has made great gains in modernizing our elections in recent years. Online voter registration, automatic voter registration, and risk-limiting post-election audits have all been enacted. The last piece of the agenda is in-person early voting. Rhode Island still lags behind the majority of states that allow citizens to vote in the weeks prior to Election Day. This legislation, introduced by Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, will allow for 20 days of early voting including limited weekends hours. It will increase access to the polls for working Rhode Islanders and lessen the strain on election administrators from the explosive growth in the use of mail ballots.