R.I. Secretary of State considering weekend voting; public forum tonight!
Monday, August 6th, 2007
Visiting us from the Ocean State? Tonight (Moday), your secretary of state, Ralph Mollis, wants to hear from you at a forum in Warwick about election reform. He’s considering ten reforms, including moving election day to the weekend. That, and nine other reforms – including proof of residency requirements and a photo ID law (controversial in the past) – are after the jump. The details of the event are, too.
In Rhode Island there is no early voting nor can you vote absentee without an excuse, so again, it’s Tuesday or bust. Here are the proposed reforms, all of which are not universally accepted as effective ways to “make it easier” to vote, as the Secretary of State said to the Providence Journal.
1. Early Voting – The tradition of holding elections on Tuesdays dates back to the needs and lifestyles of the early 1800s. In an effort to increase voter turnout, allowing voting to be conducted over several days needs to be looked at.
2. Voter Roll Cleanup – Our current voter rolls do not accurately reflect the eligible voting population. The obstacles to removing people who are deceased, have moved or are registered at more than one address must be addressed.
3. Photo ID – The lack of a photo ID system creates the perception of voter fraud, shakes voter confidence and leads to lack of voter participation. A fair and equitable photo ID system that would stand the test of our judicial system and address the concerns of our community needs to be established.
4. Voting Booth Privacy – One of the cherished rights American citizens have is the right to vote in privacy. Adjusting the current placement of voting booths or adding curtains may improve voter perception of privacy.
5. Polling Places – Canvassers are required to stand no closer than 50 feet from the entrance to a polling place when distributing literature. Consideration should be given to expanding the “no-canvassing” zone.
6. Uniform Training & Compensation of Poll Workers – Long days, inadequate training and differences in training from community to community create problems for voters at polling places. A uniform, statewide system of poll worker training and compensation needs to be studied.
7. ‘No Excuse’ Absentee Voting – Individuals who wish to vote by mail must submit physician’s proof of medical condition or proof they will not be in Rhode Island for a primary or general election. Consider following the practice of many states that do not require such documentation.
8. Expanding Voter Registration Opportunities – Certification of Voter Registration Agents and expanding the number of organizations involved in registering voters should be studied.
9. Proof of Residency – Consider revising the Voter Registration Form to require further documentation and proof of residency.
10. Closing Time for Polling Places – We have been asked to review the current opening times – which vary from community to community – and closing times for polling places.
Here is the rundown on the event from projo.com:
In what his office today called part of an effort to is do comprehensive election reform ahead of the 2008 elections, Mollis and the Voters First Advisory Commission hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m.
It’s at the Warwick Central Library, 600 Sandy Lane.
“Improving the current system will make it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote and give them more confidence in the integrity of our elections,” said Mollis.
The focus is on 10 proposals including weekend voting, developing a voter identification system and expanding the 50-foot “no-canvassing” zoning around polling places that is off-limits to campaign workers.
The public’s comments “will guide the development of a detailed a legislative package for improving the way Rhode Islanders vote,” which Mollis will introduce in the 2008 legislative session.
For more information, go to www.sec.state.ri.us.