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    Amore sees next generation shedding vitriol of today’s politics


    Gregg Amore is an optimist. The Secretary of State made that clear when he spoke to members of the Warwick Rotary Club Thursday.

    Amore has been on what he describes as a “whirlwind tour” of senior high schools. These are not assembly speaking engagements where students look off into space, paying little attention to the speaker regardless of how engaging the talk.  Amore has been meeting with classes, asking questions, talking with kids face to face. He hands out copies of the US Constitution.

    “It’s important that the next generation understand our government,” he says. Amore feels civic engagement is lacking and young people see government as a place of division and those who don’t agree as being against each other. He is promoting discourse and understanding, but not necessarily agreement. And he is confident the next generation will do that.

    “They will right the course and the vitriol will go away,” he said.

    “Compromise is the foundation of the nation,” he said adding that, “it has become a bad word.” Looking at the politics of today, he said sides are drawn and criticisms are leveled and “seldom do they talk about responsibility and the right thing.”

    Yet, Amore is an optimist.

    “I don’t think we’re that far away. We have the opportunity to right the ship.”

    Such an assessment provided a bridge to a discussion of elections.

    He spoke of those who work the polls, a long day what starts at 6 a.m. and doesn’t end until after 8 p.m. and pay that much.

    “These are the unsung heroes so necessary for our democracy to survive.”

    Amore believes in the system and told his audience they “should have a great deal of confidence in our elections.”

    Speaking of legislative changes under consideration this session he singled out the measure that now requires unaffiliated voters choosing to vote in a party primary to disaffiliate if they want to retain unaffiliated.  Voters can do that now by completing a form at the polls or by calling for a form or visiting their local board of canvassers.  The legislation would allow non-affiliated party voters to vote in party primaries, without becoming an affiliated party voter.

    Amore said political parties have opposed the measure for years largely, he speculated, because they wanted to keep track of unaffiliated voters casting ballots in primaries. With today’s computerized record keeping that information is quickly available.

    The change would also simplify life for those voting by mail and wishing to remain unaffiliated as well as the work of board of canvassers that after receiving a form to disaffiliate are required to mail verification that the request has been processed. This can take months to complete.

    Amore thinks same day voter registration will come to Rhode Island as it has in 25 other states, but from the sound of it not this year. He said that a photo identification and proof of residency are the basic requirements.

    Returning to the rancor and divisiveness of politics today, he said, “we need to talk more about the positives.”

    He saw hope in the numbers of potential candidates for Congressional District 1 seat being vacated by David Cicilline, which he put at 16, while at the same time questioning the appeal of the job for the winner who would be on the bottom of the political totem pole and face a reelection campaign in a year.

    He said with such a wide field of candidates, a candidate could win with 12,000 to 14,000 votes. He is not a fan of a rank choice voting, saying it open to challenge and questions. With rank choice, voters would list their candidates in order of preference. If a voter’s first choice isn’t the high vote getter their vote would go to the second choice. A candidate with more than half of first choices wins. If there is no clear winner there is a runoff between the candidates with the most first and second choices.

    Amore prefers a “jungle” or open primary. In this case, he explained, all the candidates regardless of party affiliation would run in the same primary with the two highest vote getters listed on the general election ballot. Conceivably, candidates of the same political party could end up on the ballot.



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