‘Long Rhode to the Vote’ looks at 2020: R.I. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea to discuss election, trends in voting rights

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Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea
Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea will take part in a virtual discussion, Nov. 18, as part of URI’s Long Rhode to the Vote: Suffrage Centennial Lecture Series. (Photo: Gretchen Ertl)

KINGSTON, R.I. – Nov. 16, 2020 – Following one of the most hard-fought, contentious presidential elections in our nation’s history – two things are certain. Americans from all walks of life turned out in record numbers to vote for their candidate and the nation finds itself more polarized than ever.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea will discuss the 2020 election and current trends in voting rights as part of the University of Rhode Island’s “Long Rhode to the Vote: Suffrage Centennial Lecture Series.” This virtual discussion is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Gorbea made history on Jan. 6, 2015, when she was sworn in as secretary of state, becoming the first Hispanic elected to statewide office in New England. Gorbea has been a champion of voting rights, working to improve access to the ballot box, while maintaining the integrity of elections, upgrading voting infrastructure and modernizing election laws to keep up with the challenges of everyday life.

“Rhode Islanders turned out to vote in record numbers in 2020. That they did this in the middle of a pandemic speaks to the work of Secretary Gorbea and the Rhode Island Board of Elections in keeping voting safe and accessible,” said Evelyn Sterne, associate professor of history and director of URI’s Center for the Humanities. “Having this discussion on trends in voting rights at this time, and in light of the suffrage centennial, is extremely timely.”

Earlier this year, Gorbea, together with Elizabeth Francis, executive director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, worked to spearhead “Shall Not Be Denied,” a statewide initiative to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment.

Long Rhode to the Vote, is sponsored by the URI Center for the Humanities, the program in Gender and Women’s Studies, URI’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors Program, the Women’s Leadership Council and the Suffrage Centennial Committee. It marks two monumental events in American history: the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the vote, and the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, which at least nominally enfranchised African American men.

As part of the commemoration of both of these milestones, the University of Rhode Island is holding a yearlong series of virtual lectures, panels and discussions over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year. Past lectures have covered such topics as how memorabilia helped to merchandise and propel the suffrage movement, the role and struggle of Black women in the suffrage movement and the complicated relationship between feminism and pageantry.

For more information on the series, to view past lectures, or to register for Gorbea’s discussion, Current Trends in Voting Rights, visit: uri.edu/suffrage.