Testimony from:
Matthew Germer, Elections Fellow, R Street Institute

In SUPPORT of S 2007, the “Let RI Vote Act”

February 15, 2022

Senate Committee on Judiciary

Chair Armour Coyne, Vice Chair Archambault and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for considering my testimony. My name is Matthew Germer, and I conduct research on election reform for the R Street Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government across a variety of policy areas, including election reform. This is why Senate Bill 2007 is of special interest to us.

R Street ardently believes state legislatures should be focused on improving the voting experience for all eligible voters while ensuring trustworthy elections. Senate Bill 2007, “Let RI Vote Act,” serves both of these aims and represents a substantial step forward for Rhode Island elections. As a result, we strongly encourage the committee to pass this bill.

The Let RI Vote Act implements a collection of meaningful improvements to the Rhode Island election system and would be a major step forward for the state’s voters. First, it provides voters more opportunities to cast ballots in ways that work for them by offering no-excuse absentee voting and creating an online application for mail ballots. Additionally, it eliminates needless red tape by establishing permanent mail ballot status for nursing home residents, allowing additional time for voters to request Braille ballots, and removing notary and witness requirements. Finally, the bill bolsters election administration by more frequently reconciling voter rolls with existing data sets, creating a voter information hotline and codifying ballot drop box provisions. These provisions put voters first and deserve the support of this committee.

R Street is particularly interested in these reforms given our work on the recent bipartisan electoral reform proposal, “Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform.” [1] In this report, R Street joined four other nonpartisan think tanks to identify baseline election standards that all states should work to implement as best practices. Rhode Island currently meets nearly all of the standards in the report, and the Let RI Vote Act would make Rhode Island one of only three states meeting 100 percent of the standards. While the recommendations in the report are not inclusive of all election best practices, the Let RI Vote Act would certainly make Rhode Island one of the best electoral systems in the country.

The bill before you empowers voters by giving them more options for securely casting a ballot. Accordingly, we strongly encourage this committee to pass Senate Bill 2007.

Thank you for your time,

Matthew Germer
Elections Fellow
R Street Institute
(714) 609-6288
[email protected]

[1] Bipartisan Policy Center et al., “Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform,” Jan. 20, 2022. https://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Coalition-Election-Report-Release-Final.pdf.