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6/12/2024 General Assembly OKs bill allowing independent voters to automatically disaffiliate after primary voting
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa and Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis allowing independent voters in primary elections to automatically disaffiliate.

Under current law, when a voter who is not affiliated with any political party chooses to vote in a party primary, that voter is automatically registered as being affiliated with that party. Those voters can choose to disaffiliate immediately by filling out a form.

The proposed legislation (2024-H 7662, 2024-S 2894) would make that disaffiliation automatic for all independent voters.

“Most voters in Rhode Island are unaffiliated with any political party, but often choose to vote in party primaries, whether it be Democrat or Republican,” said Representative Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry). “And as voter history suggests, most of those voters would prefer to remain unaffiliated after the primary is over. This bill would allow those unaffiliated voters to remain unaffiliated without having to fill out a form after the election. That not only makes it easier for the voters, but for election officials who spend hundreds of hours after every election cycle processing thousands of these forms.”

The legislation would also solve the growing problem of those who vote in primary elections through the use of mail ballots. While those who vote in person can sign a disaffiliation form at the polls, those who mail in their ballots receive no such form and are sometimes surprised to find later that they now have a party affiliation.

“Almost half of Rhode Islanders consider themselves independent,” said Senator Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, West Greenwich). “Now that more voting is done through mail-in and provisional ballots, this will stop disenfranchising voters who just forgot to fill out paperwork after the last election.”

The measure now moves to the governor’s office.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903