PROVIDENCE – A bill that would require polling places across the state to close at 8 p.m., one hour earlier than the current 9 p.m. shut-off, won passage in the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.
The bill, introduced by Republican Sen. David Bates also calls for polls in Lincoln, North Smithfield and Woonsocket to open at 7 a.m. instead of the current 8 a.m. It passed out of the committee with only two negative votes.
An identical bill authored by Pawtucket Rep. J. Patrick O’Neill has been heard by the House Judiciary Committee and is being studied.
Similar bills have been introduced in previous years, but have not passed. Election officials from various cities and towns have testified that, in most years, very few people show up to vote in the last hour between 8 and 9 p.m.
Pawtucket already has the authority to close its polls at 8 p.m. in local elections.