By: Carmen Russo

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In two years, nonprofit group Dominicanos USA (DUSA) registered more than 30,000 Dominican Americans to vote in Rhode Island. In its first year of existence, the nonprofit exceeded its goal of registering 100,000 new voters in New York and Rhode Island. As the group continues to encourage the two states’ growing population of Dominican Americans to be civically engaged, its focus is now getting voters out to the polls.

In New York, home to almost half the nation’s Dominican population, DUSA National Director Eddie Cuesta is working with the “Build Better New York” campaign to modernize New York’s voting equipment and encourage online voter registration. Cuesta joined DUSA Rhode Island State Director Natalia Rosa at the State House Thursday to support Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea as she previewed similar upgrades for Rhode Island’s voting equipment to be piloted this fall for the presidential election.

“Basically what we’re looking forward to is our voter roles will be clearer and correct as far as addresses and names, and so when the community goes out to vote and they get to the polls, their information is correct,” said Rosa. “As far as Dominicanos USA, it just helps us mobilize those people in a faster and more efficient fashion. We can register people to vote but what’s more important is mobilizing them and getting them to the polls, so this really helps the process.”

Online voter registration will be available in Rhode Island within the next week, according to Secretary Gorbea. The online portal will also soon be translated into Spanish, which Cuesta believes should be a priority in the process of upgrading and modernizing voting equipment and will make registration easier for native Spanish speakers.

“This is important because we have a very large population of Latinos and this will allow our community to really be part of the American fabric,” said Cuesta. “This is a project that will be very successful and I’m glad that Rhode Island is taking a lead, as well as thirty other states, [in using online voter registration]. This is history in the making for this state.”