Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to invalidate the Rhode Island law which requires mail ballot envelopes to be witnessed or notarized. The R.I. Republican Party makes the following statement:

“Rhode Island law requires a mail ballot envelope to be signed by two witnesses or a notary in order to protect the integrity of our electoral system. Essentially, Rhode Island has a two-step safeguard to ensure that an individual casting a ballot is actually who he or she claims to be. When it comes to voting in person, a voter must sign his or her name and present identification to verify his or her identity. When it comes to voting by mail, a voter must sign his or her name on the envelope and have it witnessed by two people or a notary who confirm the identity of the voter. Eliminating one part of this safeguard increases the likelihood of fraud. Our elections are susceptible to fraud. For example, in 1982, Providence Mayor Vincent Cianci Jr won reelection with the help Lloyd Griffin, Jr and his mail ballot operation. Years later, Cianci admitted that Griffin “had a bit of trouble differentiating between an absentee voter and a fictitious vote."

COVID-19 cannot be used as an excuse to eliminate safeguards against fraud. Rhode Island is in the middle of its Phase III reopening. If it is safe enough for 50 people to meet indoors, for nursing homes to accept visitors, then it is safe enough for a voter to have his or her mail ballot envelope signed by two witnesses or a notary.

The General Assembly decided not to eliminate the notary/two witness requirement for mail ballot voting. Through this lawsuit the ACLU is asking a judge to become the General Assembly and legislate from the bench. This is not the role of a judge. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly declared that a “State indisputably has a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of its election process.” Furthermore, even during this pandemic, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that “lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election.”

The ACLU’s lawsuit is not about protecting public health. It is about undermining the integrity of our election. As a result, the Rhode Island Republican Party is preparing to intervene in this case to protect our democracy.”

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