October 12, 2008

R.I. Democrat Party: Champion of the Powerful

Monique Chartier

Aren't Democrats supposed to represent the common man? The work-a-day joe? Sure, here we go - from the official website of the Democrat National Committee:

an abiding faith in the judgment of hardworking American families, and a commitment to helping the excluded, the disenfranchised and the poor strengthen our nation by earning themselves a piece of the American Dream.

Why, then, did the Rhode Island Democrat Party step into the Pinga/Alves primary and ask for an investigation by the Rhode Island State Police but not do so for the Lynch/Bennett primary? Identical problems - voting by ineligible Republicans and missing ballot applications - were cited in both elections. In fact, it turned out that these problems were more numerous in the Lynch/Bennett face-off than in the Pinga/Alves contest. Shouldn't the party find all such allegations equally troubling?

Ah, but neither Erin Lynch nor David Bennett currently chairs a finance committee in the General Assembly. Contrary to the goal espoused by its national committee, it appears that the Rhode Island Democrat Party is committed to helping only the powerful and the entrenched.

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1. Suppose the Rhode Island Supreme Court said, look, we know Mr. Challenger won the vote count, but the guy he beat was an experienced chair of the Senate Finance Committee, times are tough, and we don't really believe the people understood what was at stake. Therefore, we're ordering a new election.

What would Secretary of State Ralph Mollis' duty be at that point?

If the RI Supreme Court doesn't explain the discrepancy in its rulings between the Pinga/Alve case and in the Lynch/Bennett case, that is the situation that Secretary Mollis is fast approaching, where a court appears to be operating outside of applying the law equally to everyone. .

2. Integrity of the Rhode Island State Police force as a whole notwithstanding, if the entire basis of the investigation into voting in West Warwick is that "the incumbent got beat by a big margin" (and I'll add the wimpy Dan Ratheresque "and I emphasize the if" here), whoever authorized this particular investigation needs to be moved to a place where he is no longer in a position to authorize future investigations. I have no idea how high up this would go.

Remember, the state police investigation was initiated by a complaint by State Democratic Chair William Lynch -- who has already at least one time this election season brought a phony challenge to the Board of Elections with no evidence to back it up. Why should the public assume his case is any stronger this time around, unless they're shown the other evidence?

Posted by: Andrew at October 12, 2008 5:39 PM

David Bennett's not a gangster with powerful friends, either.

Posted by: rhody at October 12, 2008 9:17 PM

The following outlines the ever- changing issues raised by Sen. Aves since his defeat on 9 Sept .

· Remember that Mr. Alves initially claimed there were 87 more ballots than ballot applications! Wrong - In reality there are only three!

· Then it was 15 alleged "Republican" votes. Wrong - In reality only ten!

· Now we have a State Police "inquiry" into a specific polling place! Where did that one come from?

According to a story in the Providence Journal on Saturday, 11 Oct:

"On Thursday, the court dismissed a similar appeal in the Warwick District 31 race, upholding the Board of Elections’ earlier decision to certify Erin Lynch as the primary winner over David Bennett. In Alves case, however, the court said it was reserving decision until Oct. 23…...

Yesterday, the court gave some insight into its decision. According to Craig Berke, spokesman for the state judiciary, the court withheld its decision on the Alves case because of the call from the state Democratic Party for a state police investigation into the primary. There is no inquiry into the Warwick race.

“The Supreme Court cannot act on the District 9 race at this stage of review by law enforcement, a review that has become public knowledge,” Berke said." - Projo 11 Oct

What is unsettling is that a story ran in the Kent County Times on Saturday, 11 Oct which stated that the RI Democrat party had requested an inquiry into both races!
“Last week, state Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch asked the Rhode Island State Police to investigate the Democratic primary in Districts 9 and 31, according to a press release from the Democratic Party of Rhode Island…” - KC Times 12 Oct
What happened to the inquiry onto the District 31 Race?

Then there is the issue of the Supreme Court's initial intervention in this matter after the Board of Elections (BOE) had already recounted the ballots and denied Mr. Alves appeal in a 4-1 vote.

The BOE certified my victory after hearing Sen. Alves’ protest on Sept 17th.

The WW Board of Canvassers certified my victory on Friday, Sept 19th.

But then the RI Supreme Court intervened. Why?

The following raises serious doubts as to the logic of the Supreme Court’s "Recount the recount" and "Determine Voter Intent" order to the RI Board of Elections.

Man vs. machine at R.I. ballot box
Courts revisit hand-count ban
By Ray Henry, Associated Press | October 12, 2008
After watching Florida's agonizing recount during the 2000 presidential election, Rhode Island lawmakers sided with the machines. They passed laws eliminating hand counts of ballots and tightened laws to reduce the partisan wrangling that erupts when officials must interpret the scribbles on incorrectly marked ballots.
With a small exception for mail-in ballots, lawmakers decided that if an optical scanning machine rejects a ballot, the vote does not count.
But state courts have chipped away at the law, most recently when the Rhode Island Supreme Court ordered the state Board of Elections to manually inspect ballots this month in two close primary races and count the ballots if the voter's intent could be deciphered.
The ruling is the latest chapter in Rhode Island's ongoing man-vs. -Machine debate. In a state known for political corruption, election authorities put their trust squarely with the machines, arguing that humans are biased and make mistakes.
………. Rhode Island lawmakers in 2004 passed laws that keep humans far from the ballot-counting process. The General Assembly eliminated manual vote recounts, relying exclusively on optical scanning machines.”

Posted by: Aldo at October 13, 2008 8:09 AM
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