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RI tackles issues with non-existent voters on file

Rhode Island has a problem with non-existent voters on the rolls. (WJAR)

Rhode Island has a problem with non-existent voters on the rolls.

The Providence Journal reported that there are more than 189,000 names are on the rolls than there are voters in the state.

Some of the names are people who have moved away, while others are voters who have passed away.

Both of those categories can be cut down.

First, the state is already associated with the Electronic Registration Information Center, which shares data from 20 states and can catch dual registrations. It also checks with Social Security to clear the names of the deceased.

More improvements to making voter rolls accurate are proposed by the Rhode Island Department of State’s Elections Task Force, which released a report on April 27.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said the changes, if adopted, bode well for the state.

“I think all of these aspects of modernizing our elections make it even harder for people to mess around with our current election system,” she told NBC 10 News. “I think Rhode Islanders have a lot to feel proud of the advances, and the integrity of our elections here.”

One change she’s suggesting is to allow automatic voter registration whenever changes are made to a driver’s license at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

“When we have automatic voter registration, when you update your driver’s license, it will automatically update your voter record,” Gorbea said, also noting that the information is forwarded to local Boards of Canvassers.

Old polling places will be removed from the voters’ name.

In order to shorten lines on Election Day, the task force recommends early voting. It’s not expected to increase turnout, but certainly will make it easier for people who have long work days.

“People can vote before election day, and that actually has been shown to reduce the stress on election day because the voting public just spreads themselves out,” Gorbea said.

Last year’s experiment with electronic-poll books at 57 locations was a success. The poll books are tablets with voters’ information on them, and they speed up check in time at polling places, and increase accuracy.

Gorbea has a bill before the General Assembly to buy more of the devices.

“There’s a lot of things that are happening right now in election administration and when put together will absolutely improve the accuracy of the election, the integrity of the election, and the costs of the election,” she said.

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