Voting is the foundation of our democratic system of government. Common Cause Rhode Island has worked for decades to improve administration of our elections and access to the polls. Some of our victories include improvements in public access to our redistricting process, pre-registration of 16 & 17 year-olds, and restoration of voting rights post-release.
In 2013 we identified many of the challenges still facing our system in our report, ‘We have to fix that.’ Common Cause supports in-person early voting, and on-line voter registration to improve access to the polls for all Rhode Islanders. We oppose the use of the archaic master lever on the Rhode Island ballot.
‘We have to fix that’
In November 2012 Common Cause Rhode Island had over 60 volunteers at polling places around the state. They found problems ranging from long-lines, to poor signs. The result of their efforts was a 22-page report, ‘We have to fix that.’ The recommendations from that report include implementing a system of in-person early voting in Rhode Island as well as the availability of on-line voter registration.
For the first time in recent memory many Rhode Islanders who went to the polls in November 2012 faced significant lines to vote. According to one survey the average Rhode Islander faced a line that was three times longer than in 2008. In the last several years a number of legislative changes have been made to restrict access to the polling place including shortening the voting day and expanding the number of voters at many locations. On top of that Rhode Island implemented a voter ID requirement for this first time.
Our own report, ‘We have to fix that,’ as well as that of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration have recommended some simple reforms that can improve the voting experience. On-line voter registration allows citizens to update their registration using a computer; making it easier for our mobile society to keep up-to-date and ensuring our voter rolls are clean. In-person early voting will allow citizens who cannot or do not want to vote on Election Day to cast a ballot in the same manner. It takes voting out of the 19th Century and into the 21st.
Voting and Elections Modernization Act of 2015 (VEMA)
In 2015 we were pleased to join Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea in supporting the Voting and Elections Modernization Act (VEMA). You can read more about that effort to here.