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.
Articles about voting issues 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.