Legislation to automatically put anyone who applies for a Rhode Island driver’s license on the state’s voter rolls, unless they opt out, cleared the state House of Representatives on Wednesday, despite GOP efforts to block the same practice at other state agencies with troubled computer histories. In the end, the vote was unanimous for the legislation championed by Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, the governor and a long list of groups, including the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause Rhode Island, Young Democrats of R.I., and the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island.
But along the way, House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, R-West Warwick, sought to strip the bill of language allowing any state agencies — other than the Division of Motor Vehicles — to automatically place applicants for unemployment, public assistance and other state benefits on the voter rolls. Her move failed on a 62-to-10 party-line vote.
Implicit in her comments was a concern about undocumented immigrants.
As written, the voter registration bill specifically exempts an ineligible voter who unwittingly finds himself or herself registered as a Rhode Island voter from criminal responsibility. The exception: “Anyone who knowingly and willfully provides false information pursuant to this section shall be subject to prosecution.″
Full Article: R.I. House OKs automatic voter registration bill.