Rhode Islanders would be able to register to vote online and vote early in-person under new legislation promoted by Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. The legislative package, dubbed Voting and Elections Modernization Act of 2015, would among other things make early voting available up to 28 days prior to an election using the emergency mail balloting process. Under the proposal, voting would be available on the weekend before Election Day in 2016. By 2018, in-person early voting would be available on two weekends prior to Election Day. “I think it’s important that elections are modernized and adapt to people’s lives and schedules and commitments,” Gorbea said.
Currently, 32 states allow in-person early voting. Gorbea said her proposal is designed on the mail balloting system, which would not require voting equipment to be on site for early voting. Mail balloting would be handled by clerks’ offices. Gorbea said she met with local clerks who support the idea. Previously introduced early-voting proposals would have required staffed polling places.
Louise Phaneuf, Burrillville’s town clerk, said she would support the proposal, noting that working families have difficulty making it to polling places.