The effort to expand early voting in Rhode Island appears headed for an impasse for the fifth year in a row. Advocates for Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s proposal, which has stalled in House and Senate committees, say they remain hopeful lawmakers will revisit the measure, but legislative leaders demurred when asked whether it would be considered again. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio told The Associated Press no decision has been made. “We’re looking at early voting. We had the hearings,” he said. “Some people like it. Some people don’t.” Residents can already apply for “emergency mail ballots” at their city or town halls within 20 days of an election. Those ballots proved increasingly popular in 2016.
The bill would let those voters cast ballots in person just as they would if it were Election Day. Gorbea said it makes voting more convenient and eliminates the risk of mistakes, which disqualify some mail ballots every year.
While many lawmakers, including Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, support the measure, there has been opposition from some cities and towns about the costs of implementing the new procedure. And as the session’s deadline looms — legislators are aiming for a June 22 closing date — there’s something else holding the bill back: Lawmakers are worried about their own re-election.