Lawmakers vote to close state polls at 8 o'clock
The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted last week 51 to 9 to approve Rep. John Patrick Shanley's proposal to close polls one hour earlier during Rhode Island elections to ease the workload of cities and towns and allow Rhode Islanders to find out the results of elections at a more reasonable hour.
Currently, Rhode Island's polls are open until 9 p.m., an hour later than those of all other New England states. Nationally, only Rhode Island and Iowa keep polls statewide open until 9 p.m.
Representative Shanley said he introduced the bill (2008-H 7034A) because cities and towns are increasingly having difficulty recruiting poll workers, since poll workers start the day as early as 6 a.m. for the 7 a.m. opening and finish as late as 10 p.m. State central canvassing authorities who work to collect and compile results from around the state often do not finish their work until midnight.
The bill, which will now head to the Senate, has the support of elections officials, including Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, the Rhode Island Board of Elections and the Rhode Island Town and City Clerks Association.
The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr. (D-Dist. 33, Narragansett, North Kingstown, South Kingstown), Rep. Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence), Rep. Jon D. Brien (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket) and Rep. Joseph N. Amaral (R-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth).