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RIHA Column: Get Up and Get Out the Vote, Rhode Islanders!

Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Industry Association.

Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Industry Association.

By Dale J. Venturini, President & CEO, RI Hospitality Association

This year, every General Assembly candidate will be up for re-election. After the uphill climb our industry operators have experienced over the last couple of years, we know you care more than ever about what happens to your business; but if you do not vote, you are silencing your voice.

The most effective way to protect your business is to get involved; your voice and perspective are the most effective advocacy tools our industry has. Local elections have a lasting impact on our entire industry, but often have very low voter turnout. The best way to have your voice heard is to be an active, engaged voter.

Becoming more familiar with your local legislators and working to better understand their legislative agenda allows you to become a more informed voter, which provides insight into which candidates may be best positioned to address your business needs, the needs of the community in which they will serve, and the needs of the many businesses their politics may impact.

While a number of voting-related deadlines just passed in August, including the deadline to register to vote in the primary, the voter disaffiliation deadline, and the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot, early voting is ongoing until September 12. If any of these categories apply to you, please take the time now to make sure you are able to vote.

With the primary election being held on September 13 and the general election taking place on November 8, the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) is using this opportunity to remind Rhode Islanders, especially those tied to the hospitality industry, to “Get Out the Vote!”

In order to vote in a party’s primary election, you must either be a member of that party or unaffiliated (Independent) and be registered to vote in the district where you live. Only those who are registered as “unaffiliated” voters can choose which primary to vote in depending on who is running in the primary.

Why is this important to note? In many races, the primary election is the ONLY contested election for state legislators.

Although you may have missed this year’s deadline to register as a voter, you can easily confirm your voting and registration status here. There, you can also check your party affiliation and change your address. Those who are considering disaffiliating totally, or changing their affiliation to another political party, can also do so immediately after voting.

For more information on submitting a mail ballot or any other information related to elections and voting in RI, please contact the Rhode Island Department of State’s Elections Division here or call (401) 222-2340.

As you may know, RIHA relentlessly dedicates itself to various advocacy efforts on behalf of the entire industry, not just its members, each year. We strongly believe that it is essential that our regulatory structures create a level playing field for all businesses that allow for the expansion of new businesses while respecting the investments made by those already in existence.

Whether you have questions about voting in Rhode Island or how these elections may impact the hospitality industry in 2023 and beyond, please contact Senior Vice President of Advocacy/General Counsel Sarah Bratko, Esq. at: (401) 223-1120, ext. 115 or Sarah@RIHospitality.org.

A veteran of more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Venturini is considered by many to be the voice of the industry in the state of Rhode Island. She has been instrumental in improving the industry’s educational and training programs in the state, as well as enhancing the bottom line of the business she represents. Venturini splits her time between the office and the State House, a constant presence for her membership.

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