The Let RI Vote Act, which would permanently adopt measures used in 2020 during the pandemic, has cleared another hurdle as the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed the measure on a 52-13 vote Tuesday.
The goal of the bill is to expand voter access while ensuring integrity in state elections.
“As we saw in 2020,” said lead sponsor state Rep. Katherine Kazarian (D-63), “early voting alternatives were used by a large portion of our population and the results of this change in voting patterns produced a smooth and secure election process that ensured that everyone’s vote was safely counted.”
But Republicans questioned the need for the bill and raised concerns about voter fraud. “We are sacrificing the security of our elections for convenience,” Representative Robert Quattrocchi, a Scituate Republican, said in opposing the bill.
“This is a major milestone in the history of voting rights in Rhode Island,” said Marcela Betancur, spokesperson for the Let RI Vote Campaign and executive director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University.
A key component of the measure include setting up a hotline in multiple languages that Betancur said, will provide accurate information in the language a person is most comfortable in, like foreign born Hispanics-Latinos who may not be proficient in English.
On the “3 Questions With…” podcast, Betancur shared insights on how the proposed legislation would break barriers keeping the Hispanic-Latino electorate and other marginalized communities from voting.
In 2020, voting by naturalized U.S. citizens was approximately the same rate as those who are Hispanics-Latinos born in the United States, according to a City University of New York study.
Governor Dan McKee sent out statement following the House passage supporting the proposal, adding he’s “ready to sign it.”