PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee signed a new bill into law on Wednesday making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote.
The “Let RI Vote Act” allows Rhode Islanders to apply for a mail ballot without needing an excuse for why they can’t head to their polling location on Election Day.
“There is nothing more fundamentally American than the right to vote, it provides every Rhode Islander the opportunity to have a say in how they would like to see their state, and country, shaped,” McKee said. “The ‘Let RI Vote Act’ makes voting easier, safer, and more secure, and making it easier to give Rhode Islanders a voice in their government should always be our top priority.”
It also drops the requirement that mail ballots have to be signed by two witnesses or notarized. Instead, voters’ signatures will be verified using their registration record by using a four-tiered verification process.
“COVID-19, the events of January 6, 2021, and unfair voter treatment across the United States have exacerbated the need for election reform,” Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said.
It’s now required that every municipality have at least one drop box where voters can deposit their ballots securely through the close of polls on Election Day. Additionally, nursing home residents can now opt-in to automatically receive applications for mail ballots for every election.
The bill also extends the application deadline for a Braille ballot from 45 days to 21 days and requires the Secretary of State to establish a permanent multilingual voter information hotline.
“It should be easy to access your right to vote,” Sen. Dawn Euer, the bill’s sponsor said. “Giving voters options about when and how to cast their vote is a way to ensure that our elections really do produce results that reflect the will of the people, all the people.”