To the Editor:
I write on behalf of the Newport Democratic City Committee to congratulate our state legislators, particularly local sponsors Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Lauren Carson, for passing the “Let RI Vote” legislation, which Gov. McKee signed into law on June 8.
The NDCC has consistently ranked voting concerns as a top priority. The modifications put into place under emergency circumstances in 2020 were very favorably received in Newport, and we are pleased that voters will be able to enjoy similar provisions in our elections in 2022 and going forward.
It’s worth noting that the state of Oregon moved to exclusively mail balloting in 1998 and it was never controversial there. The allegations of fraud connected to mail ballots are only a recent concern, generated in a highly politicized atmosphere. The Secretary of State instituted sensible alternative provisions in 2020, which have now been codified.
Most important, this legislation allows Rhode Islanders to apply for a mail ballot without needing an excuse. For safety and security, it provides for regular cleanup of voter rolls. For ease, it provides for a hotline for voters to call. The law provides for expanded access to voting and allows for last minute changes of plans, all of which encourage participation in the most fundamental act in a participatory democracy: voting. Of interest, many people don’t know that the Board of Elections is open to the public, allowing people to see just how the processing of mail ballots takes place.
For too many years, Rhode Islanders’ only choice has been to vote at our polling places on Election Day, with no options if something came up last minute and the deadline for a mail ballot had passed. Now all eligible voters can choose to vote in-person on Election Day; early in-person at their city or town hall; safely at home by mail; or by dropping their mail ballot in a drop box.
However, Rhode Island still has the longest voter registration deadline in the country. The next push will be to make same-day registration the law in our state.
In the meantime, we celebrate this important accomplishment. Thank you, Rhode Island!
Susan Taylor Newport