Rhode Island House Judiciary Approves Pre-Registration, US Senate Vacancy Bills

Two of FairVote Rhode Island's legislative goals--youth voter pre-registration and direct elections for vacant US Senate seats--passed the RI House Judiciary Committee with flying colors on March 4, 2009.

H 5094, sponsored by Rep. Christopher Fierro, would ensure that every US Senator from Rhode Island is directly elected. The current law in Rhode Island allows the governor to make an appointment to fill a vacant US Senate seat, and the appointed senator may serve as long as two years before facing the voters. FairVote RI supported a similar measure last year, well before the issue came to capture the public attention in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal. A Constitutional amendment recently introduced by US Sen. Russ Feingold would accomplish the same goal on a national level. H 5094 won unanimous, bipartisan approval from the nine voting members of the Judiciary Committee.

Youth voter pre-registration (H 5005), sponsored by Rep. Edwin Pacheco, would allow 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote in civics class or at the DMV. The bill passed the committee on an 8-1 vote. Pre-registration has been approved by the General Assembly for the last three years.