Secretary Nellie Gorbea
Secretary of State | State of Rhode Island
Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea made history when she was sworn in on January 6, 2015, becoming the first Hispanic elected to statewide office in New England. A proven leader who is taking on some of the toughest issues and getting results, she was re-elected to serve a second term in office on November 6, 2018. Secretary Gorbea believes government should work for people. As Secretary of State she has promoted increased civic engagement and government accessibility.
In 2017, she worked to pass automated voter registration, making Rhode Island the ninth state in the country to do so. She also improved Rhode Island’s elections infrastructure by implementing online voter registration and securing funding for modern voting technologies like electronic poll books. She has positioned the state as a national leader in elections cybersecurity. Her work to increase voter engagement, especially among new and young voters, is already seeing results. Rhode Island saw a 64 percent increase from 2014 to 2018 in the number of voters ages 18-20 voting in the general election.
Understanding the importance of preserving and highlighting Rhode Island’s rich and diverse history, Secretary Gorbea has initiated the development of a new State Archives to help Rhode Islanders understand and appreciate their state’s great history. She has also developed civics and history resources for teachers to use in the classroom, including collections of primary source archival documents, a Rhode Island historical timeline, and infographics about how government works in Rhode Island. These efforts are complemented by experiential learning offerings such as the High School Elections program, which offers schools the opportunity to hold their student government elections with real ballots and voting machines.
In 2018, Secretary Gorbea worked to modernize Rhode Island’s notary public laws to allow for electronic notarizations for the first time in Rhode Island. Her legislation also afforded more protections for consumers. She launched a new online Business Assistant to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses in the state and continues to streamline processes in the Business Services Division.
In 2016, Secretary Gorbea ushered in tough legislation to crack down on violations of lobbying rules and make Rhode Island’s lobbying regisration system a model for the nation.