They are all Democrats. But not all of the Democrats in Rhode Island’s highest elected offices had the same luck getting their legislation through the overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled General Assembly. In the year before the 2018 elections, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea scored a big one. Her push for early, in-person voting did not succeed, but the Assembly approved — and the governor signed — her bid for automatic registration of all potentially eligible voters who do business at the Department of Motor Vehicles, unless they decline to be registered.
The legislation sets the stage for automatic registration at other state offices, including the state’s network of welfare offices, to the dismay of the Assembly’s outnumbered Republicans. Implicit in their comments: a concern about undocumented immigrants.
But some lawmakers were jubilant, including the Senate sponsor Gayle Goldin, D-Providence, who hailed the passage as a big win for democracy that will “make participation easier for first-time voters, and help reduce the incidence of would-be voters being turned away at the polls.”