Legislation that would authorize the Secretary of State and the Board of Elections to conduct an extensive cybersecurity assessment of the state’s election systems and facilities, and establish a cybersecurity review board, was introduced by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero this year. The legislation also creates a cybersecurity incident response group to adopt protocols in the event of any breaches of cybersecurity. “There is no finish line when it comes to cybersecurity; a recent Gallop poll shows that Americans rank cybersecurity as a top threat facing our country, with 98 percent saying it’s a critical issue,” said Ruggiero. “ Our world is very different today than it was five years ago. We saw firsthand in the 2016 elections how the democratic process and governance came under attack through social media and technology and how it perpetuated divisiveness amongst people.” After unanimously passing the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the legislation was sent to the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee last month. The committee didn’t vote it out of committee. Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton Fung, a Republican, sponsored the legislation. “If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that improving trust in the mechanics of our election process is so very important right now,” said Fenton-Fung. “This bill raises our game in terms of improving our cybersecurity infrastructure, and creates a comprehensive review and response team that includes the well-respected Rhode Island National Guard and Rhode Island State Police.
Many believed that it was illegal for the Rhode Island Board of Election to accept and count ballots sent to the state by email in the 2020 election. The Board’s Executive Director Robert Rapoza and Miguel Nunez, Deputy Director of Elections, have confirmed to GoLocal that a significant number of ballots were accepted from overseas and military personnel from unsecure emails and those ballots were counted in the final tally. The acceptance of the ballots seems to have caught Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, as well as the former vice-chair of the Board of Elections and the top election watchdog in Rhode Island, off-guard. The number of ballots sent out was 3,072 and 2,732 were returned by overseas voters and members of the U.S. military. According to multiple sources, Gorbea, who has repeatedly raised concerns about non-secure email ballots was unaware that the Board of Elections accepted and counted email ballots in the 2020 election.
Rhode Island House approves bill to allow remote electronic voting | Katherine Gregg/The Providence Journal
The state’s top election officials raised warning flags. One state lawmaker after another stated their misgivings about a bill moving through the State House to allow remote voting without a paper trail. But in the end, the Rhode Island House on Wednesday voted 48-to-17 for legislation that would allow disabled and military voters to “electronically receive and return their mail ballot.” The bill now goes to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s turnabout on the bill epitomized the struggle many of the lawmakers were having in an era of cyber hacking and potential distrust of the outcome of any election where there is no paper trail to validate the results. Advocates said the electronic delivery and return of ballots would make it easier for handicapped people to vote than the current system for absentee voters, which ultimately requires the filled-out ballot be placed in the mail or in a drop box. But Common Cause of Rhode Island, one of the leaders of a campaign to increase voting opportunities, came out strongly against the bill. “We believe that the electronic return of the ballot is too risky,” John Marion, executive director of the local Common Cause chapter, told The Journal. “The FBI and [R.I. Congressman] Jim Langevin both agree. It can be hacked and votes can be changed, and the voter would never know.”
Full Article: RI House approves bill to allow remote electronic voting
Conducting a cybersecurity assessment of Rhode Island’s election systems could soon fall to the secretary of state, if Gov. Daniel McKee signs a recently proposed bill by state lawmakers. According to Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-74, the bill aims to create a proactive plan to prevent future ransomware and cyber attacks against the state’s election systems and provide training to canvassers to deal with cyber incidents. “This bill is timely and relevant as it allows the secretary of state and the board of elections to take actions to enhance our election security,” Ruggiero said. “We saw firsthand in the 2016 election how the democratic process came under attack — through social media and technology.” During the 2016 presidential election, issues such as bots posing as social media users to spread false information and the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee finding that Russia employed over 1,000 people to create fake accounts to spread anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric raised cybersecurity concerns. Because of incidents like these, she said, cybersecurity has become an adversary that’s everywhere, impacting various industries throughout the country, including businesses, education and government. However, in Rhode Island’s case, no cyber incidents have been reported.
The Rhode Island Board of Elections conducted an audit Monday of the results of the Nov. 3 general election. “They look at a sample of the total number of ballots cast and compare it to the outcome of the election,” said John Marion of Common Cause. The so-called risk-limiting audit happens after every election in Rhode Island and is mandated by state law. It stems from people being worried during the 2016 election about cyberattacks. That same year, there was a problem at a Pawtucket polling place where one machine reported the wrong results. “It made election administrators and ultimately the General Assembly realize they needed to do something to check the results every time in a systematic way,” Marion said. The process is very organized and starts with blue boxes of ballots. The process counts roughly 10% of all of Rhode Island’s ballots by municipality. Monday, they were focusing on the presidential election.
Full Article: Rhode Island Board of Elections audits election results
Rhode Island: A state Board of Elections official says cybersecurity has held strong | Mark Reynolds/The Providence Journal
The cybersecurity of Rhode Island’s election system has been strong through the entire election cycle and remains sturdy as the state prepares for a risk-limiting audit of voting results, a state election official said Tuesday. The state Board of Elections’ process for transmitting unofficial election results, with modems and a private network, had drawn some scrutiny prior to the election. One election technology expert with the Silicon Valley-based OSET Institute, Eddie Perez, had referred to the plan as “a bad idea,” citing “broad consensus” in the cybersecurity field regarding the liability of such wireless technology. But Rhode Island’s Board of Elections stayed with its plan, reassured, in part, by input from the Rhode Island National Guard’s local team of cybersecurity experts, known as the Defensive Cyber Operations Element. On Election Night, the modems helped keep the public “well-informed” with timely unofficial results, said the BOE’s deputy director of elections, Miguel Nunez. Nunez pointed out that the system had processed a record number of ballots. “We feel very good,” he said.
Rhode Island Board of Elections to conduct post election Risk-Limiting Audit on Nov. 23 | Daniel Hollingworth/ABC6
The Rhode Island Board of Elections (BOE) will conduct a Risk-Limiting Audit of the state’s 2020 General Election Results which is required by state law. Rhode Island is one of 5 states conducting a Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA), according to BOE spokesman Chris Hunter. “Risk-limiting audits are considered the ‘gold standard’ of post-election auditing techniques,” said Diane Mederos, Chairwoman of the Board of Elections. “Rhode Island voters have the right to have trust and confidence in the state’s voting system, and risk-limiting audits allow us to strengthen that trust by verifying that our voting machines are functioning properly and free from error or manipulation.” Post-election audits provide an extra layer of verification of the accuracy of the voting system after the election. The verification will rely on paper ballots, which Rhode Island has utilized to record every vote cast in the state over the past 20 years.
Rhode Island to use modems, private Verizon network for transmission of unofficial resultsOSET Institute expert says State is taking misguided risk | Mark Reynolds/The Providence Journal
After the polls close on Tuesday, Rhode Island election officials will take a risk when they rely on modems and a private Verizon network to collect tabulated election results from voting precincts across the state, according to leading election technology experts. Election officials say the cybersecurity of the modem arrangement has been greatly enhanced and only unofficial results will travel across the network. An election technology expert with the Silicon Valley-based OSET Institute, Eddie Perez, asserts that the arrangement is “a bad idea,” citing “broad consensus” in the cybersecurity field. “Any attempts to try to shore up and justify the use of modems to transmit even unofficial results in this threat environment, I would say is a misplaced mandate,” Perez said. The use of networks, including private networks, for transmitting election results has come under fire from prominent election technology experts in Florida.
Rhode Island: Board of Elections recommends against sending mail ballot applications to all registered voters for September primary | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal
State election officials sent word Wednesday that they do not support sending unsolicited mail ballot applications to every one of Rhode Island’s 700,000-plus registered voters for the September primaries. The unanimous vote, aimed at Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, came during a two-hour meeting of the Board of Elections that touched on worries about a possible resurgence of the coronavirus in the fall and the chilling effect that could have on voting. As one of the commissioners who also sits on Gorbea’s separate elections task force, Isadore Ramos questioned the value of the “redundancy.” “Now we’re talking about the same issues,’’ he said. ”I’ve heard it all. It is time to move and make some decisions.“
Rhode Island: 100K mail ballot applications sent by state were returned to sender | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal
In the end, roughly 83% of the 123,875 Rhode Islanders who voted in Rhode Island’s June 2 presidential primary voted by mail ballot. But in the first-ever predominantly mail-ballot election, an unknown number of ballots went astray; at least 1,670 ballots arrived in the mail too late to be counted; and approximately 100,000 of the mail ballot applications the state sent, unsolicited, to 779,463 registered voters were returned as undeliverable, according to post-election reports from the Board of Elections. In an effort to reduce potential public exposure to the highly transmissible COVID-19 respiratory disease, state elections officials slashed the number of polling stations and attempted to conduct a predominantly mail-ballot election. While the machine-vote tallies made President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden the apparent winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries on Tuesday, the unofficial tally was not posted until Friday night.
Rhode Island: 6,100 masks, 750 bottles of hand sanitizer: Election board lays out how it will hold June 2 presidential primary | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal
For a presidential primary like no other Rhode Island has ever seen, state election officials say they will need: 1,400 masks for poll workers, 4,700 masks for voters who arrive without their own, 750 bottles of hand sanitizer and 150 face shields. The list goes on. Disinfectant spray. Gloves. Cleaning towels. Social-distancing floor decals. Social-distancing signage. The state Board of Elections’ “In-Person Voting Preliminary Covid-19 Response Plan’’ assumes the state’s emergency management agency will, at the very least, provide the personal protective equipment, or PPE. Made public for the first time Friday morning, the plan resulted from talks between staff at the board and the state Department of Health about how to protect voters and poll workers at the 47 polling stations that will be open for the June 2 presidential primary. While state elections officials have been pushing a “predominantly mail ballot election’’ by sending mail ballot applications unsolicited to every voter in the state, they know some voters will want to vote as they always have: at a polling station.
Rhode Island: State to open only 47 polling places statewide for presidential primary | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal
Many fewer polling places will be open for Rhode Island’s June 2 presidential primary than in the past, amid a push to get more Rhode Islanders to vote by mail ballot. Earlier this week, the state Board of Elections, meeting remotely via Zoom, approved requests by the cities and towns to open 47 polling locations in the 39 cities and towns. In most communities there will be only one polling station. In Cranston and Warwick there will be two in Pawtucket there will be three, and in Providence four. By way of comparison, there were 144 polling places open statewide for Rhode Island’s 2016 presidential primary.
Governor Raimondo has signed an executive order moving Rhode Island’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 2, as requested by the state Board of Elections. She announced her decision in a tweet that said: “Last week, the Board of Elections requested that the presidential primary election be postponed from April 28 to June 2 and that the election take place primarily by mail ballot. “I am following the advice of the Board of Elections, and will sign an executive order to do this.” Later in the day, she signed an executive order that looked back at the 2016 presidential primaries when “over 180,000 Rhode Islanders cast their ballots at.. over 146 polling places,’’ and then ahead to this year’s primary with a potential 182 polling places with a minimum of 8 poll workers each.
Rhode Island: Board seeks delay, mail ballots for presidential primary | John Howell/Johnston Sun Rise
Following the call from the State Board of Elections to postpone the April 28 presidential preference primary to June 2, Dottie McCarthy is breathing easier – although the challenge ahead is daunting. The April 28 date is set by law and to change would require the governor to issue an executive order to override the law. That hadn’t occurred as of Wednesday afternoon. “As we’ve seen, this is a quickly evolving situation. The Rhode Island primary is still more than a month away, and the Governor’s top priority is protecting the immediate public health and safety of Rhode Islanders. She is open to the idea of moving the election date and will rely on guidance from public health and election officials to inform that decision,” Josh Block, the governor’s spokesperson, said in an email. In response to efforts to control the coronavirus, the Board of Elections would mail primary ballots. While this will eliminate the congregation of people at the polls, voting isn’t going to be as simple as walking into the polls, giving your identification and picking up a ballot.
Rhode Island’s Board of Elections is seeking to postpone the April 28 presidential preference primary until June 2 to give the state more time to prepare, if necessary, for a potential COVID-19-driven move to an all mail ballot election. The board voted 6-1 on Tuesday to ask Gov. Gina Raimondo to take all measures necessary — including potentially issuing another emergency executive order — to override the state law that now requires the primary to take place on April 28. Raimondo spokesman Josh Block responded: “She is open to the idea of moving the election date and will rely on guidance from public health and election officials to inform that decision.” The board’s executive director, Robert Rapoza, cited several arguments for a delay. Among them: “Process is currently disrupted because local communities are operating under severe restrictions due to Coronavirus precautions. … April 28 is only 6 weeks away. Outbreak is expected to last longer. Coronavirus situation may improve in May or June. … Protective gear and cleaning supplies may be easier to obtain and provide to the polls.”
Rhode Island: After Iowa fiasco, is Rhode Island’s voting tech ready for Primary Day? | John Krinjak/WLNE
Who knew a smartphone app could grind a caucus to a halt? Earlier this month in Iowa, it took days for Democratic officials to figure out who won. Here in Rhode Island, that fiasco is raising some eyebrows. “Any time there is a problem in an election in the United States, it’s troubling,” said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. With our primary coming up on April 28th, Gorbea wants to reassure concerned voters. “They might mistakenly believe that’s what’s happening in Iowa, could happen in Rhode Island, when it can’t. they have a completely different system. They have caucuses, we have primaries, and we are really well set up for our primary,” said Gorbea. She says Rhode Island is taking steps to make sure it all goes off without a hitch. “Every day until Primary Day and beyond, the state-whether it be the board of canvassers or at the state board of elections or in my office-we will all be working to make sure that that primary election happens smoothly,” said Gorbea.
Rhode Island: Board of Elections votes to purchase new modems to enhance security | Mark Reynolds/Providence Journal
The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to enhance the security of the voting system by acquiring new modems for the machines that tabulate votes and embracing other recommendations of a recent security assessment. The board took action after releasing a public copy of the security assessment and taking input from Rhode Island National Guard Col. R. Michael Tetreault, who was part of a team that helped draft the assessment. The state Division of Information Technology and the Rhode Island Guard Defensive Operations Element looked at “technology enhancements” made to the state’s election management system, according to a report obtained Tuesday by The Providence Journal. The initiative also reviewed efforts to reduce risk based on recommendations made last year.
Voting by email. Upgrading the modems used to transmit election-day vote tallies. Unmasking the donors hiding behind names like “The Coalition to Make Our Voices Heard” who pour money into campaigns. On a day Russian interference in past U.S. elections again made news, Rhode Island election officials waded into this quagmire without making any final decisions on what to do next. For example, they briefly weighed the pros and cons of allowing overseas voters — such as members of the military — to cast their R.I. election ballots from afar by email. The idea was shelved — at least for now — pending more study, after one member after another of the state Board of Elections voiced concern about the security of ballots cast in this fashion, despite assurances the ballots would be sent to a dedicated “address.” “I think we need to look very carefully at the security issues,” said the vice chairman, Stephen P. Erickson. It was unclear who authored the email-voting proposal that appeared on the board’s agenda, alongside a proposal to upgrade from 3G to 4G the modems the state uses on election-day to transmit results to state Board of Elections headquarters. That proposal too was put on hold — until next week — amid warnings from Brian Tardiff, the information security officer for the state’s Division of Information Technology, that making public all of the findings of a cybersecurity analysis of Rhode Island’s election system could put the system at risk.
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea told her audience on Friday how during the March 2016 presidential primary she was accused on election-related websites of rigging the election in favor of Hillary Clinton to the detriment of Bernie Sanders and closing down polling sites. “A year later it was determined that Bernie bots of the Russian Internet Research Agency were at work,” Gorbea said. “If your head is spinning, believe me, everyone’s head is spinning.” Gorbea was addressing more than 140 election officials and information technology experts who gathered for a five-hour Cybersecurity Summit at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center in Newport. Media were allowed to listen for 1 ½ hours, but then cleared out before speakers like Noah Praetz, a senior election security advisor with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Jessica Cone, a specialist with the U.S. Elections Infrastructure — Information Sharing and Analysis Center, made their presentations. “We don’t want to give away our game plan,” Gorbea said.
Rhode Island: Report examines ways to adopt election audit system in Rhode Island | Jennifer McDermott/Associated Press
A new report recommends how to adopt a system for auditing election results required in Rhode Island. Common Cause, Verified Voting and The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released the report Tuesday. They helped the state design and test the risk-limiting audit system this year. Rhode Island will first use risk-limiting audits for the 2020 presidential primaries. There are three ways to do the postelection audit. The report recommends a ballot-level comparison because of its efficiency, transparency and relatively predictable cost. That type of audit would compare the vote on an individual ballot to the machine’s recording of the vote on that ballot, which requires the fewest number of ballots to be examined. The other methods, ballot polling and batch comparison, compare more ballots to totals produced by the machines and require the examination of far more ballots, John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Tuesday.
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s most important job is to make sure Rhode Island elections are on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, she has unilaterally blocked the public from obtaining information that was previously available in digital form to check on the accuracy of the voter lists she maintains. (In this year’s session, the legislature balked at Ms. Gorbea’s attempt to deny the public such information by law.) And now it turns out that she bought voting machines that could be liable to hacking. The issue came to light recently through a Vice.com investigation, which found that, for a period of time, Rhode Island’s elections system was connected to the internet. The public had been assured the machines were walled off from potential hacking. Researchers were able to find online the reporting system for results from the entire state. Not good. The problem is striking a balance between quick reporting of results — which in itself helps protect our elections from fraud — and making sure machines are free from tampering. Modems in the voting machines Ms. Gorbea bought transmit election results quickly to the state Board of Elections after the polls close.
Rhode Island: Security expert offers solution to prevent hacking of election computers in Rhode Island next year | Edward Fitzpatrick/The Boston Globe
A computer security expert is proposing a solution that would let the state Board of Elections bolster its cybersecurity on Election Day without having to rip out modems that make the state’s election system vulnerable to cyberattacks. On Aug. 2, the Board of Elections asked Tony Adams, an information security professional who lives in Providence, to write a memo suggesting ways to reduce the risk of hacking on election night, when modems are used to quickly report unofficial results. In an Aug. 14 memo, Adams suggests having the modems report unofficial results to computers that are separate from the state’s core election computer system, which configures ballots and tabulates official results. That way, if hackers did penetrate the system on election night, they couldn’t change the official results or hold the whole system hostage with ransomware, for example, he said. “This idea is so elegant you have to ask: Why didn’t I think of that?” Board of Elections Vice Chairman Stephen P. Erickson said this week. “Because you don’t have to spend a lot of money, it’s relatively simple to implement, and it will substantially increase the level of security — and the perceived security, which is important.”
Rhode Island: Voting machines had modems in 2016 and 2018. Now the state is assessing its hackability. | Patrick Anderson/Providence Journal
Before the 2016 election, the state bought voting machines equipped with Verizon modems that transmit preliminary election results to the state Board of Elections — speeding the state’s ability to declare winners on election night, but also exposing the system to potential meddling. The Providence Journal delivers accurate, timely news about the moments that matter most. To receive stories like this one in your inbox, sign up here. Election hacking fears rekindled by the federal Russia probe have prompted Rhode Island election officials to take a closer look into whether the state’s voting systems are vulnerable to attack. The new concerns relate to the state’s decision to buy voting machines before the 2016 election equipped with their own Verizon modems that transmit preliminary election results to the state Board of Elections after the polls close. The modems have helped shorten the time it takes the state to declare winners on election night. But because any internet connection exposes a system to potential cyberattack, the federal government never certified the modem-equipped machines for states to use. And this summer the U.S. Senate committee investigating Russian efforts to breach the 2016 election urged states to tighten their election security, use only federally approved voting machines and “remove (or render inert) any wireless networking capability” such as a modem.
Rhode Island: Report prompts elections officials to examine security of voting systems | Patrick Anderson/Providence Journal
The Providence Journal delivers accurate, timely news about the moments that matter most. To receive stories like this one in your inbox, sign up here. Election hacking fears rekindled by the federal Russia probe have prompted Rhode Island elections officials to take a closer look into whether the state’s voting systems are vulnerable to attack. The new concerns relate to the state’s decision to buy voting machines before the 2016 election equipped with their own Verizon modems that transmit preliminary election results to the state Board of Elections after the polls close. The modems have helped shorten the time it takes the state to declare winners on election night. But because any internet connection exposes a system to potential cyber attack, the federal government never certified the modem-equipped machines for states to use and this summer the U.S. Senate committee investigating Russian efforts to breach the 2016 elections urged states to tighten their election security, use only federally-approved voting machines and “remove (or render inert) any wireless networking capability,” such as a modem.
Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea joined GoLocalProv News Editor Kate Nagle on LIVE where she spoke to the office overseeing the rebuilding of the central voter registration system this year — and why she fears early voting not passing the General Assembly this year will have consequences in 2020. “We are in the process of making sure that our hardware an internet structures are secure — so Stonewall Solutions, I’m proud to say a Rhode Island company from Pawtucket — just won the RFP for rebuilding our central voter registration system, so we are secure to modern-day standards,” said Gorbea. “It was a great program back in 2003 when we first built it but now you know it needs to be upgraded.”
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says a contract has been awarded to build a new central voter registration system for the state. The Democrat announced Thursday that Stonewall Solutions, of Pawtucket, was awarded the contract. The computer database, designed in 2005, houses the state’s list of registered voters and acts as Rhode Island’s election management system. Gorbea says a modernized system will help ensure elections are secure and streamline the way election officials process voter records, update the voter list, check ballots and certify mail ballots.
Rhode Island: Brown University study on Rhode Island voter ID law raises questions | Providence Journal
Opponents of Rhode Island’s eight-year-old voter ID law cheered this week when research showing the law stifled voting by low-income residents appeared to confirm their long-held fears. The study from Brown University academics published by the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER] found that the photo ID law passed in 2011 and used for the first time in 2014 resulted in a “significant decline in turnout, registration, and voting conditional on registration (for more vulnerable groups of voters) in presidential elections after the law was implemented.” After making the rounds among national election law watchers Monday, the study was cited in a General Assembly press release Wednesday promoting Sen. Gayle Goldin’s package of voting reform bills, including one to repeal the voter ID law.
Rhode Island: Russia Wants to Undermine Trust in Elections. Here’s How Rhode Island Is Fighting Back | Time
When a group of Rhode Island’s top officials gathered in a chilly warehouse in Providence in mid-January to fight foreign interference in U.S. elections, the mood was festive. After Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s name was pulled out of a knit Patriots hat, the crowd applauded and cheered uproariously. And when she leaned over a plastic table to roll a 10-sided die typically used for Dungeons and Dragons, people watched intensely. Then the work began. The number generated from 20 rolls of the dice was used to pick the ballots that would be pulled and tested to see if November’s vote counting had been done correctly, a final fail-safe against a hacked election, all done in plain view of the public. “Democracy and elections are only as good as whether people trust them or not,” Gorbea said. “Confidence in our democracy is critical to every other public policy issue.” Voting experts say this kind of election audit is critical to thwarting attempts to meddle with American democracy. It not only detects problems with ballot counting, but the open nature of the audit itself also helps restore voters’ confidence in the system.
Rhode Island: To enhance election security, Rhode Island tests a new way to verify election results | Uprise RI
Rhode Island is making good on its promise to road-test risk-limiting election audits, following 2017 passage of legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, requiring them. Beginning with the presidential primary in April 2020, Rhode Island will become the second state to require these audits to verify election results. A “risk limiting” audit checks if the election result is correct. Specifically it checks the counting of the votes. A “risk-limiting” audit limits the risk that the wrong election result will be certified. It can catch errors which change the result and correct a wrong result. To prepare for next year’s full implementation, the Rhode Island Board of Elections will conduct three pilot audits on January 16 and 17 at 50 Branch Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island beginning at 9:30 a.m. These pilot audits will be conducted with local election officials from Bristol, Cranston and Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
The demand for mail ballots in the recent election shows the need to allow for early voting, Rhode Island’s secretary of state said Wednesday. Democrat Nellie Gorbea said about 17,000 traditional mail ballots were returned for the Nov. 6 general election, up from about 11,500 in 2014. She said nearly 11,000 “emergency mail ballots” were returned within 20 days of the election, up from nearly 5,000 in 2014. Gorbea, who was elected to a second four-year term, said she’ll once again push for a bill to allow early voting at city and town halls within 20 days of an election. The legislative session begins in January. Gorbea said it would make voting more convenient, secure and eliminate mistakes that disqualify some mail ballots. Voters would cast ballots in person just as they would if it were Election Day.