State senator wants Rhode Island to join 49 other states in making votes instantly available

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By State Sen. Lou Raptakis (D-Coventry, R.I.)

People have a right to know how their elected officials are voting and when that information is kept from people, it is a sure sign of a broken system.  As a member of the Rhode Island legislature for 18 years, I’ve seen numerous efforts to modernize the workings of the General Assembly.  The latest attempt to force our legislature to join the electronic age is a bill I have introduced that would provide citizens with timely access to the voting records of the Rhode Island House and Senate — both the floor votes and committee votes.

Rhode Island is lagging behind the rest of the country by failing to make legislative information easily available.  Every other state makes voting records available online as a basic recognition that in the 21st century citizens deserve timely access to this information.  We have the technology to do what other states are doing. Now we need the commitment from legislators to let their votes be reported to their constituents in a timely way.  This is the key to promoting accountable and responsible government.          

We have seen what happens when decisions are made in the middle of the night, when hundreds of bills are being considered in just two days.  It leaves people feeling frustrated and disconnected from their government.  This is our opportunity to fix that and let the citizens of Rhode Island know that we are serious about doing the public business the right way.

Among the organizations speaking out in favor of the legislation were Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and Operation Clean Government.  These are groups that have been promoting good government for decades in Rhode Island. Along with new citizen action groups, members of the public, and the media, we are working to promote this legislation to make government accessible and accountable. It is crucial that we as a legislative body finally amend the processes by which we make information public, so voters can obtain information easily and in a realistic time frame.

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One Response to “State senator wants Rhode Island to join 49 other states in making votes instantly available”

  1. Cathy B. Says:

    I can’t believe that Rhode Island doesn’t do this already!

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