STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michelle E. McGaw strongly supports the Let Rhode Island Vote Act, legislation to make it easier for Rhode Islanders to access their right to vote.

The act (2022-H 71002022-S 2007A) would permanently allow early voting and the use of mail ballots by any registered voters who want to use them — two policies that were put in place temporarily for safety during the pandemic. It will eliminate needless roadblocks, such as the requirement that voters attest that they need a mail ballot because they are unable to visit the polls in person on Election Day, and the requirement that mail ballots be signed by a notary public or two witnesses. Existing law requires that local Boards of Canvassers verify that the voter’s signature on each mail ballot cast matches the voter’s signature on record to ensure validity.

In the 2020 elections, when mail ballots were made available to all Rhode Island voters, a record number cast votes.

“The right to vote is fundamental, and in 2022, we should be taking advantage of all the advancements that are available to make is easier for everyone to access. One of the lessons we’ve learned during pandemic is that our state is totally capable of providing secure, flexible voting options, and that more Rhode Islanders participate in elections when they have them. Democracy depends on voter participation, so I fully support this effort to help all Rhode Islanders have a voice in elections,” said Representative McGaw (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton).

Representative McGaw said that, of all the issues before the General Assembly this session, support for the Let Rhode Island Vote Act is the one about which constituents have contacted her the most.

“Voters really appreciated having more flexibility in the most recent elections, and the expanded options resulted in orderly, well-run, verifiably fair and safe elections. I’m proud to support the Let Rhode Island Vote Act, and I’m optimistic that it will increase civic engagement, participation and confidence in our elections,” she said.

The bill, sponsored by House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) and Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), is backed by the Rhode Island Voting Access Coalition, a broad coalition of community organizations that includes AARP, the NAACP Providence Branch, Common Cause and many other groups that promote Rhode Islanders’ rights.

The House bill is currently before the House State Government and Elections Committee, which held a hearing on it March 24. The Senate is scheduled to vote on its bill on April 26.

Source: Rhode Island General Assembly

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