Senate approves online voter registration
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin to allow Rhode Islanders to register to vote or update their voter information online.
The legislation, which Senator Goldin introduced in conjunction with Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea, would authorize the secretary of state to establish a web portal that would allow voters to register or update their existing registration information online. The bill (2016-S 2513aa) would allow the secretary of state’s office to cross-reference application information with information in the databases of other state, municipal or quasi-public agencies to verify the information submitted by applicants.
Senator Goldin said online voter registration is a convenience that citizens should be able to expect in an age when so much of their daily business can be conducted online.
“You can renew your car registration online. You can pay your taxes online. These are conveniences for citizens, and they help the state by increasing the likelihood that people will fulfill their obligations and by cutting down on transcription errors. For the same reasons, we should also let people register to vote online. In 2016, it’s reasonable for citizens to expect to be able to register to vote, check their registration or update it online,” said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence). “If being able to register online means more people become voters, it’s an advancement for democracy, too.”
The bill also connects Rhode Island to a multi-state partnership to share electronic registration information, which allows the secretary of state to clean up voter rolls and maintain the integrity of the state’s elections.
Identical legislation (2016-H 7024) sponsored by Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence) has also passed the House. At least one of the chambers must pass the bill that originated in the other chamber before it can be transmitted to the governor for signature.
In January 2014, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommended that all states implement online voter registration, in part because it “increases the accuracy and currency of the voter rolls, thereby reducing delays and congestion at the polling place.” Thirty states plus the District of Columbia currently offer online registration, and another two states have passed legislation to create online voter registration systems, but have not yet implemented them. Arizona was the first state to institute online voting in 2002, and now 70 percent of its registration occurs online. According to one study, it costs Arizona 83 cents to process each manual registration form, but only 3 cents for each online registration.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903