FairVote RI

   145 Wayland Ave,
   Providence, RI 02906

   Phone: 401.429.6059

   Fax: 360.933.2456

   sledge@fairvote.org

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   Visit RhodeIslandSuffrage.org.

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Big Win for Voter Pre-registration in CA
Advances in MA and RI
On October 11, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a voter pre-registration measure spearheaded this year by the New America Foundation and backed by FairVote, Common Cause, Californians for Electoral Reform and many others. It establishes that all Californians turning 17 can register to vote. Voter pre-registration measures allowing 16-year-olds to pre-register have also become law in recent years in North Carolina and Florida. A member of the Massachusetts statehouse leadership announced last week that a similar measure is her top priority in coming weeks, and the Washington, D.C. City Council last week unanimously backed pre-registration legislation.

FairVote's work pushing pre-registration since 2005 is also making a big difference in Rhode Island, where a major canvassing effort (the “Make it Happen” campaign) is underway in support of pre-registration. A Pew Charitable Trusts research team currently is examining the impact of pre-registration on FairVote's goal of universal registration of all soon-to-be-eligible voters, ideally twinned with civic programs explaining voting mechanics and the history of suffrage.



North Carolina Adopts Youth Preregistration
New law includes high school civics standards
North Carolina governor Bev Perdue signed H.B. 908, an election reform bill that includes the FairVote-endorsed policy of youth preregistration and improved opportunities for voter registration in high schools. Following Hawaii and Florida, North Carolina becomes the third state to set a uniform voter registration age of 16-years-old. The bill passed the House and the Senate by votes of 107-6 and 32-3, respectively.

The new law takes effect January 1, 2010 and allows 16 and 17-year-olds to "preregister" to vote, including a provision requiring schools to provide voter registration opportunities to students in public schools every year. The bill also encourages schools to expand voter registration in schools by working with local boards of election. Youth preregistration bills have been introduced in several other states this year, including Arizona (HB 2384), California (AB 30), Kansas (HB 2256), Maryland (SB 671), Michigan (SB 61), Rhode Island (SB 5005), Washington (HB 1193) and the District of Columbia (Bill 18-345). 

[Bill Information: HB 908]
[FairVote North Carolina Registration and Education Project]
[Youth Preregistration Fact Sheet]
[FairVote Ally Democracy NC]



News from FairVote RI: Assembly Update and Donation Doubling
Your donations until July 4 will be doubled
Dear FairVote Friends,

Although there seems to be some uncertainty as to when it may come back, the General Assembly is now taking a breather after the hectic days of June. I wanted to let you know what action--both good and bad--was taken on FairVote's legislative agenda, and how your donation now will be automatically doubled.

Best,
Matt Sledge

---
Rhode Island Director, FairVote
sledge@fairvote.org
401.429.6059
---

1. Donations doubled until July 4!

Through July 4, 2009, any new donation will be doubled through a generous offer from the national FairVote's board of directors. For more, see http://fairvote.org/donate. It'd be hard to find a better way (fireworks and barbecues not included) to celebrate the great American tradition of democracy. Thank you!


2. Pre-registration approved by both chambers

Youth voter pre-registrationhas now been approved by both the RI Senate and House, for the fourth year in a row! S 85, sponsored by Rhoda Perry, was approved by the RI House late last Thursday night. Its house companion, H 5005, sponsored by Rep. Pacheco, is still waiting for a vote over on the Senate floor, but we're optimistic the vote will be taken soon.


3. Direct elections for Senate vacancies must still be "crossed over"

Last Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee also approved the House version of a bill that would mandate direct elections for vacant US Senate seats in our state. Once the Assembly gets going again, we hope for a quick "cross-over" vote on the duplicate bills that have passed in both the House and Senate in the opposite chambers, and the Senate Judiciary vote is a great first start.

And fantastic news from Connecticut: Governor M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, just signed into law a very similar measure requiring elections for US Senate vacancies. In Rhode Island, of course, support for the "Blago bill" has been broadly bipartisan, and we're hopeful that Gov. Carcieri will join Governor Rell in supporting elections for every US Senator.

In her official statement, Governor Rell said "We are fortunate to live in a participatory democracy, where our people do indeed have a voice in how they are governed. This law is consistent with my long-held belief that we should take every action possible to involve our citizens in their government."

We couldn't have put it better ourselves.


4. National popular vote bill defeated

If passed the national popular vote bill would have joined Rhode Island in a compact already passed by five other states to directly elect the president--instead it was voted down on the House floor on June 18. We at FairVote, along with many others in the state who support the legislation, were naturally disappointed by that outcome. But the RI Senate previously approved an identical measure on a 26-9 vote, and the same bill will be back next year. For good reason: 74% of Rhode Islanders want a national popular vote for president. Once enacted by states with a majority (270/538) of electoral votes, the national popular vote bill will guarantee the presidency to whoever wins the most votes in all 50 states and DC.


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May 19th 2009
Senate approves Connors bill to join National Popular Vote Pact
Rhode Island General Assembly

STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation to join Rhode Island into a pact with other states to ensure that the candidates who win the most votes nationwide in presidential elections are the ones who win the White House.

May 14th 2009
Let's Make Every Vote Count
The Nation

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation magazine, highlights FairVote's research in an important piece on the "broad support" growing in the states for the National Popular Vote plan to elect the president.

May 14th 2009
No more appointed senators
Baltimore Sun

FairVote's David Segal argues for an end to the filling of Senate vacancies by appointment, and supports a national movement to have those vacancies filled through democratic elections.

April 24th 2009
Panel backs elimination of the electoral college
The Providence Journal

A national drive to change the way the president and vice president of the United States are elected has won the backing of a state Senate committee Thursday night.

April 19th 2009
Why not voters' education for teens?
The Knoxville News Sentinel

Jack McElroy makes the case for 16-year-old advance registration and civics ed classes for Tennessee youth.

April 9th 2009
States Move to Create Culture of Voter Engagement through Preregistration
TPM Café

Project Vote's Erin Ferns highlights FairVote's effort to pass 16 and 17-year-old pre-registration bills in Rhode Island and California.

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