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.Full Article: Contract awarded to build central voter registration system.
Articles about voting issues in Rhode Island.
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.Full Article: Political Scene: Brown academics' study on R.I. voter ID law raises questions - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.
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.Full Article: Rhode Island Seeks to Restore Voters' Trust in Elections | Time.
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.Full Article: To enhance election security, Rhode Island tests a new way to verify election results – Uprise RI.
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.Full Article: Secretary of state proposes early voting in Rhode Island.
A big change is in store for many Rhode Island voters Wednesday as they check in at polling locations. The board of elections gave ABC6 News a demo of the new electronic poll books which will be rolled out. Basically, instead of those old binders with your name and address you’ll just have to present your photo identification. The information is then scanned into an iPad where they verify you’re the right person and in the right place. If you’re not in the right place, the device can text you the address of where you’re supposed to be. Officials say this new technology has been shown to cut down on wait times and increase data accuracy. “You’re information is going to be brought up extremely quickly so that poll workers don’t have to flip through hundreds of pages to try and find your name. It’s going to show up within seconds,” said Rob Rock, Director of Elections with the Secretary of State’s Office.Full Article: Electronic poll books rolling out in RI - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather.
Rhode Island: Due to computer glitch, ineligible candidate listed on Pawtucket primary ballot | Providence Journal
The DMV voter-registration glitch has created a messy situation in a Pawtucket House race, where it has come to light that Rep. Jean Philippe Barros’ only opponent — Democratic primary challenger David Santagata — is not a registered Democrat. With the Wednesday, Sept. 12 primary only days away, the state Board of Elections has scheduled a meeting for Monday to decide what to do in this unprecedented situation where ballots have already been printed — and mail ballots cast — in a race that includes a candidate who was a registered member of the Moderate Party when he was certified as a Democratic primary candidate in Pawtucket House District 59. On Friday, the state Board of Elections posted an agenda that brought this consequence of the DMV snafu to light.Full Article: Due to computer glitch, ineligible candidate listed on Pawtucket primary ballot.
Voters in precincts across the state may notice something new when they visit their polling locations to vote in next week’s primary elections. Instead of long, alphabetized lists of registered voters, poll workers will now use digital tablets that can pull up a voter’s information and confirm receipt of a ballot with a simple scan of a photo ID. The technology, called a Poll Pad, was first piloted in select precincts in Rhode Island in 2016 and will be implemented statewide for the first time next week. Poll workers tested out the new system during a training class held at Woonsocket City Hall Aug. 23. As Amy Farrell, a trainer with the Rhode Island Board of Elections, points out, the technology eliminates the need for paper poll books along with much of the human error that can come along with the manual check-in process.Full Article: New Poll Pad technology set for statewide rollout | The Valley Breeze.
As a result of an “IT” snafu in the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles’ automatic-voter-registration system, the new and newly-updated records of at least 5,000 potential primary day voters got stuck in limbo. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is asking the state Board of Elections to take emergency steps at its next meeting on Wednesday to rectify the situation. More specifically, she is asking the state board to give the go-ahead for elections officials in all 39 cities and towns to add at least 1,400 new voters to their local rolls before the Sept. 12 primary, and change their own records to reflect changes — such as a move to a new address — of another 3,600 previously registered voters who did business with the DMV in the last year.Full Article: 5,000 R.I. voter records caught in computer glitch - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.
The effort to expand early voting in Rhode Island appears headed for an impasse for the fifth year in a row. Advocates for Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s proposal, which has stalled in House and Senate committees, say they remain hopeful lawmakers will revisit the measure, but legislative leaders demurred when asked whether it would be considered again. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio told The Associated Press no decision has been made. “We’re looking at early voting. We had the hearings,” he said. “Some people like it. Some people don’t.” Residents can already apply for “emergency mail ballots” at their city or town halls within 20 days of an election. Those ballots proved increasingly popular in 2016.Full Article: Early voting looks headed for impasse again in Rhode Island - Fairfield Citizen.
The success of the 2020 census, which will be the first to include an online survey, could hinge on a single “dress rehearsal” underway right now in Rhode Island — and so far, many locals aren’t impressed. Providence County, the state’s most populous, is the only place where the Census Bureau is running a full test, after plans to test two other sites this year were canceled because of a lack of funding from Congress. A planned question about citizenship that has states suing the federal government isn’t on the test. Several elected officials and leaders of advocacy and community groups this week held an “emergency press conference” to raise concerns, which include a shortage of publicity around the test and its limited language outreach in an immigrant-heavy county, with large communities from countries including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Portugal and Cape Verde.Full Article: 2020 census test has critics counting concerns, not people - Lowell Sun Online.
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says it’s time for Rhode Island to allow early in-person voting. The Democrat is proposing to allow people to vote during normal business hours for a 20-day period before primary and general elections, and on the weekend prior to each election. It’s one of a handful of election-related bills submitted at Gorbea’s request. She is also proposing moving the state primary to August instead of September. Most states allow qualified voters to cast a ballot in person during a designated period prior to Election Day. In Rhode Island, some people vote early and in-person now by going to their town halls and applying for an emergency mail ballot, which is a paperwork intensive process, Gorbea said.Full Article: Secretary of state pushes for early in-person voting | Myrtle Beach Sun News.
Rhode Island: Providence County will be only site in nation for 2018 census test | Providence Journal
The U.S. Census Bureau will hire as many as 1,800 census takers and supervisors for a test-run in Rhode Island next year, in preparation for the next big U.S. Census in 2020. Providence County, R.I., will be the one-and-only testing ground in the nation — in 2018 — for the next big U.S. Census in 2020 that will determine, among other things, whether Rhode Island gets to keep its two seats in the House of Representatives. How Rhode Island got chosen as the sole location for this 2018 “end-to-end” census test is not fully clear.Full Article: Providence County will be only site in nation for 2018 census test.
The Rhode Island Board of Elections has started the process of changing one of its rules in response to a complaint filed by a former GOP gubernatorial candidate, Ken Block, who has testified before President Trump’s commission on voting irregularities. Block filed a complaint in September with the U.S. Justice Department, alleging the state was violating a federal voting regulation by failing to collect Social Security or driver’s license numbers from new voters.Full Article: Rule Change In The Works For Voter Registration | Rhode Island Public Radio.
Despite the denunciations hurled Ken Block’s way when he filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging Rhode Island was violating federal election law, the state Board of Elections took a first step Monday toward fixing what is now acknowledged to be a problem. The board gave its lawyer, Raymond Marcaccio, the go-ahead to draft potential replacements for a regulation adopted in 2008 that excludes people registering in person from a federal requirement that voters registering for the first time provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Marcaccio recommended the board remove any “ambiguity″ by removing the exclusion for these would-be voters.Full Article: R.I. elections board moves to close voter registration loophole.
Rhode Island: Embattled ex-Board of Elections head Kando files new suit in state court | Providence Journal
Ex-state Board of Elections executive director Robert Kando is once again suing his former employer, this time in state Superior Court. Kando filed suit Monday in Providence County Superior Court, accusing the board of violating his due process rights, the state Whistleblower’s Act and the Open Meetings Act by firing him in August 2016. The filing comes after U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell ruled in the board’s favor in June by refusing to reconsider his dismissal of Kando’s lawsuit challenging his firing from the $143,000-plus position he had held since 2005.Full Article: Embattled ex-RI Board of Elections head Kando files new suit in state court.
With no one actually disputing the possibility that Rhode Island has for close to a decade violated a federal law requiring a driver’s license or Social Security number from people registering to vote for the first time, a battle of wills broke out Wednesday night at the state Board of Elections. The battle pitted elections board member Stephen Erickson, a one-time state lawmaker and retired District Court judge, against 2014 Republican candidate for governor Ken Block, who did a recent — and highly controversial — voter analysis for a nonprofit co-founded by President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon. Before a live audience at the election board’s Branch Avenue headquarters, Erickson and Block essentially acted out their running Twitter dispute over the complaint that Block filed with the U.S. Department of Justice late last month alleging violations by Rhode Island of the “Help America Vote Act (HAVA).”Full Article: Block's 'voter analysis' debated before R.I. elections board.
Two-time gubernatorial candidate Ken Block alleges there is a “gigantic” loophole in Rhode Island’s voter-ID law for people who vote by mail ballot. The allegation is the latest in a series since Block was hired by a nonprofit — co-founded by President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon — to use his computer skills to data-mine for potential electoral abuses, including straight-out voter fraud. He recently made a formal request for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation. On Monday, he alleged a new issue: the potential for people voting by mail ballot to escape Rhode Island’s voter ID requirements. “The use of mail ballots in Rhode Island’s elections has exploded, with the 2016 general election seeing a doubling of mail ballot usage compared to recent previous elections. The use of mail ballots was marketed as ‘early voting’ by some officials,″ he noted.Full Article: Dispute arises over potential loophole in mail balloting.
The General Assembly has approved a bill to establish post-election audits to ensure that equipment and procedures used to count votes are working properly. “This will go a long way toward ensuring public confidence in election results,” said Sen. James C. Sheehan, D-North Kingstown, who introduced the legislation at the urging of Common Cause. “Without the constant scrutiny and examination of election procedures, the democratic system could be called into doubt.” The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Edith H. Ajello, D-Providence. The audit would be a partial recount to verify the accuracy of the voting system.
Rhode Island: House OKs bill to empower Board of Elections to conduct post election audits | Providence Journal
A bill that would give the board of elections power to perform “post-election risk-limiting” audits aimed at improving the accuracy of election results passed the House. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello D-Providence, will allow the Board to create a board in 2018 that would conduct audits of statewide primaries, general, and special elections. In 2020 the board would also analyze the results of the presidential race. It passed unanimously, and awaits action by the Senate.