Rhode Island
Rhode Island
TierMid Tier

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Responsive Gov’s Grade TL;DR

After passing significant pro-voter reforms in 2022, the Assembly continued to build on that progress by passing several minor pro-voter policies this past session. The state also successfully launched its online mail ballot portal earlier this year as part of the 2022 reform package. However, it missed an opportunity to upgrade its automatic voter registration system. Therefore, Rhode Island received a B+ on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Rhode Island Started at the Beginning of 2023

  • Automatic Voter Registration: Partial AVR
  • Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
  • Same-Day Registration: Yes (presidential races only)
  • Restoration of Rights: Prison Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: No-Excuse
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
  • Early Voting Opportunities: Regular Ballot Early Voting
  • ID Requirements: ID Requested, but not Required

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Rhode Island as of 2022, we considered the state a middle tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2023 activity against other middle tier states.

How Our Tier Compares

  • COVI (2022): 20th
  • EPI Score (2020): 8th
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 9/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): MEDIUM

2023: This Past Year

Legislative Action

The Assembly instituted a few minor pro-voter reforms this past session. But the Legislature failed to move forward legislation that would have updated the existing automatic voter registration system to make it more secure, efficient, and effective at registering voters.

  • S 613/ H 6240 requires local jurisdictions to take into account a variety of factors when sitting polling places to ensure poll placement is equitable and will maximize voter participation.
  • S 35/H 5055 allows 17 year olds to vote in a primary if they will be 18 by the general election.
  • S 742/H 5462 requires the secretary of state to appoint a liaison to facilitate communications between the Department of State and the Board of Elections.

Implementation Action

  • Last year, the state’s secure online mail ballot application portal opened for voters to begin requesting ballots. The portal was implemented as part of the Let RI Vote Act passed in 2022.