DON’T SUSPEND LAWS THAT SAFEGUARD OUR ELECTIONS
Today the R.I. Board of Elections is meeting to consider suspending election laws for the upcoming Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) election on June 2, 2020. According to prior news reports, the R.I. Board of Elections has voted to suspend various election laws requiring mail ballot envelopes to be signed by witnesses or public notaries. In response, the R.I. Republican Party has filed comments with the Board of Elections expressing its opposition and objection to the suspension of laws designed to safeguard the integrity of elections.
Here are excerpts from these Comments:
“Neither Governor Raimondo nor her appointees have the authority under the Rhode Island Constitution or Rhode Island General Laws to suspend election laws. To the extent Governor Raimondo or her appointees have the legal authority to suspend election laws, only limited aspects of the laws ensuring the integrity of an election should be suspended.”
“ … an election must be conducted in a manner which both safeguards the public health and the integrity of the ballot box.”
“On April 3, 2020, the R.I. Secretary of State notified notary publics that remote online notarizations are authorized during the coronavirus state of emergency. There is absolutely no logical reason to require remote online notarizations for various legal documents during this public health emergency while suspending the legal requirement for notarization in its entirety for mail ballots.”
“ … rather than suspending all mail ballot signature safeguards, a prohibition on mail ballot harvesting by campaign workers and volunteers would do much more to protect public health during a pandemic. Mail ballot harvesting is the practice whereby campaign workers and volunteers collect and submit mail ballots. Although this practice is illegal in other states, it occurs in Rhode Island. During a pandemic, mail ballot harvesters like Edward Cotugno, and Robert Enright could become “super spreaders” of a contagious disease. Prohibiting the practice of mail ballot harvesting would not only help protect public health but it would also help protect the integrity of elections.”
“This year’s PPP election is more likely to have turnout comparable to the 2012 PPP election when about 22,000 votes were cast than the 2016 PPP election when about 180,000 votes were cast. As a result, we oppose spending taxpayer money to send mail ballot applications to all Rhode Island voters when many of these voters have very little interest in voting in an uncontested PPP election.”