PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea today unveiled
increasing voter participation among Rhode Islanders between the ages of 18 and 35 –
an age group commonly referred to as Millennials. Nationally, Millennials now
represent about 31% of the electorate, but turnout among this younger age group has
traditionally been lower than other generation groups.
“In 1971 the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution made the legal voting age in
the country 18, down from 21. Yet here we are, 45 years later and so many young
citizens are disengaged,” Secretary Gorbea said. «I am committed to engaging and
empowering all Rhode Islanders in the electoral process, but we must do more to
encourage participation among our younger Rhode Islanders.»
RIVotes.org is a peer-driven initiative that answers common reasons Millennials
typically give for not voting. The website’s simple navigation walks users through a
series of questions about their intention and readiness to vote. The site gives
important information on voting procedures and how to register to vote online in
Rhode Island. If users are unsure about voting, they are directed to several peer
videos explaining how easy it is to be a voter and why voting matters.
“It’s important for young people to remember that the General Election is not just
their opportunity to vote for President of the United States; they will also be
asked to vote for members of Congress, state and local leaders, and referenda
questions,” Secretary Gorbea said. “Government policies impact their everyday lives
and voting is the easiest way for young voters to have some control over important
In July 2015, the Rhode Island Department of State received a Knight Prototype Fund
award as a winner of the Knight News Challenge on Elections, which sought ideas to
inform voters and increase civic participation. Secretary Gorbea convened a group of
high school students, academic advisors, and local canvassing officials from six
communities to launch the Rhode Island Civic Fellowship program. The website was
fully funded by the James L. Knight Foundation and developed based on
recommendations from that program.
The launch is timed with National Voter Registration Day on September 27. National
Voter Registration Day was first started for the 2012 presidential election by the
National Association of Secretaries of State in an effort to register eligible
voters across the country.
The voter registration deadline to vote in the November General election is Sunday,
October 9. Rhode Islanders can now register to vote online at vote.ri.gov or visit
their local board of canvassers to submit a paper form. For more information about
this year’s elections, visit sos.ri.gov or call (401) 222-2340.