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For a suggested minimum donation of $10, you can become a member of Rhode Island’s foremost non-partisan non-profit seeking to give more people more meaningful political choices. Your tax-deductible donation will help us:
• Fix the Electoral College. FairVote RI has taken the lead in the national push to ensure the president is chosen by a national popular vote. FairVote RI’s director co-authored an editorial with Lincoln Chafee in the Providence Journal. Thanks to FairVote RI’s work, the national popular vote plan received approval in both chambers of the General Assembly before being vetoed by Governor Carcieri. This year we’re back in the General Assembly.
• Encourage youth activism and voting. FairVote RI assembly a coalition of over a dozen local groups backing youth voter pre-registration, which would let 16 and 17 year olds pre-register to vote. This common-sense reform, already used in several other states, could boost youth voter turnout. We also wrote a high school curriculum on the history of voting in our state, online at RhodeIslandSuffrage.org.
• Prevent another Blagojevich scandal. Last year, well before Rod Blagojevich filled a US Senate seat in an allegedly corrupt process, we warned that the gubernatorial appointment process most states use is arbitrary and far from transparent. This year we’re once again supporting a bill that would make sure every US Senator from Rhode Island is directly elected, in every case. Vacant US Senate spots would be filled by a special election.
• Encourage improved voting methods. In 2008, FairVote RI backed a ranked-choice system of proportional voting for the Providence City Council that would have encouraged greater diversity of all kinds. Now we’re spreading the word about proportional voting and instant-runoff voting to colleges across RI.
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FairVote RI Membership Drive
State Group Launches Push for One-Year Memrships
Senate Jud Approves National Popular Vote Bill
On Thursday, April 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee of the Rhode Island General Assembly approved the national popular vote bill (S 161) sponsored by Sen. Daniel Connors. The committee approval is the first formal vote this year on the bill, which passed both chambers in last year's session before being vetoed by Governor Carcieri.
A companion bill, H 5569, is sponsored by Rep. Donald Lally in the House.
FairVote will update this website when a floor vote is scheduled in the Senate.
Rhode Island Senate Passes US Senate Vacancies Bill
House Passed Companion Bill on March 10, Now Bills Must Cross Over Before Reaching Governor's Desk
On March 25, the Rhode Island Senate approved a bill that would ensure every US Senator from the state is directly elected. The bill, S 201, was sponsored by Senator Paul Jabour. It passed on a 33-1, vote with Democratic, Republican and Independent support.
Rhode Island's House passed an identical companion measure, H 5094 (sponsored by Rep. Christopher Fierro) on March 10. Now either or both chamber of the General Assembly must approve a companion version before the bill is sent to the Governor's desk.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's Senate appointment process, nine states are considering US Senate vacancy bills. The dual victories for the Senate vacancy bill mean Rhode Island is the state where a Senate vacancy bill has advanced the furthest so far this year.
A vacancy in a Rhode Island US Senate seat would currently be filled by gubernatorial appointment. In Rhode Island, the governor makes an interim appointment which lasts from the time of the vacancy until the next general election, according to current state law--in other words, for a period of up to two years.
Sen. Jabour and Rep. Fierro's bills would end the gubernatorial selection process and ensure a popular election. Their legislation is similar to laws already in place in several other states. It would also bring Senate vacancies in line with vacancies in the US House of Representatives, which are always been filled by special elections.
See FairVote's issue page for more background on the bill.