Both chambers of the General Assembly on Tuesday gave their final approval to legislation sponsored by Sen. Gayle Goldin and Rep. Aaron Regunberg to allow Rhode Islanders to register to vote or update their voter information online. The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk. The legislation, which the two Providence legislators introduced in conjunction with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, authorizes the secretary of state to establish a web portal to allow voters to register or update their existing registration information online. The bill would allow the Department of State 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. The sponsors 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.
“It’s time to bring voter registration into the 21st century. Making voter registration available online means it’s conveniently accessible to Rhode Islanders 24 hours a day, so no matter how busy they may be or what kind of hours they work, they have the opportunity to be a registered voter,” said Regunberg, of House District 4. “Electronic registration will encourage more Rhode Islanders, especially younger people, to register to vote by eliminating the necessity of having to get to City Hall during business hours, and will help get more people involved in the democratic process.”
Electronic registration can also help eliminate errors and confusion, while saving the state money, they said.
“This legislation is a way to make government work more efficiently for citizens,” said Goldin, of Senate District 3. “Allowing people to type in their own information means no one has to transcribe handwritten applications, eliminating an opportunity for errors as well as a time-consuming task for public employees. At least one study has shown that the reduction in paperwork has saved the public money. And allowing voters the ability to check and update their registration records online can help eliminate hassles that might otherwise result in problems at the polls for them.”