Efforts underway to expand Rhode Islanders’ access to the ballot

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Experts were stunned earlier this week when Rhode Island held onto both of its seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Common Cause R.I. Executive Director John Marion.

In an interview on 12 News Now at 4 Wednesday, Marion said the state’s population, “had been trending away for the better part of the decade,” but he believes the pandemic ramped up community outreach efforts, since many were concerned it could lead to an undercount.

“The community-based effort helped us exceed expectations in terms of just making sure people who were here got counted,” Marion said. “There may have been more people here in 2010 but they didn’t get counted because there wasn’t a community-based effort to count them.”

Watch the full interview in the video above.

Marion said it’s extremely important for the Census data to be accurate, and not only because it ensures Rhode Island will keep its second House seat.

“Roughly $2,000 dollars per person, per year of federal tax money flows back to the state based on various federal programs that rely on Census data,” he said. “So back-of-the-envelope math, the additional 43,000 people that were counted in Rhode Island over 2010 means roughly $100 million will flow back to the state for the next 10 years.”

In addition to the Census, Marion discussed some election-related legislation currently being considered by the General Assembly.

Common Cause is one of many organizations working to expand Rhode Islanders’ access to the ballot through the “Let RI Vote” campaign.

“We looked at several other states and compared our voting laws, and Rhode Island has a form of early voting, but we don’t even have weekend voting,” he said.

Marion also said Rhode Island is one of two New England states that doesn’t allow same-day voter registration, and it’s something he believes needs to change. He said of all the reforms that could be made to the state’s voting system, same-day voter registration would increase the turnout the most.

“The average person isn’t thinking about the 30-day voter registration deadline and Rhode Island’s registration deadline is the longest in the nation,” Marion said. “We think if eligible voters were able to register and vote on the same day, we’d see far more participation.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Providence

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