July 10, 2012

Rhode Island Faces Imminent Peril, Says the State Board of Elections

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to the State Board of Elections, Rhode Island is facing "an imminent peril" to its "public health, safety, or welfare". The imminent peril has forced the Board to call an emergency meeting to "[make] confidential the optional information on voter registrations of voters email addresses, telephone numbers and if interested as working as poll workers, since that information is not required under state law and is meant for the use by the local boards of canvassers".

Without having declared imminent peril to Rhode Island, the Board would have to "provide 30 days notice of its intended action", "afford all interested persons reasonable opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments", and demonstrate need, before adopting the new administrative rule.

However, by declaring an "an imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare" of Rhode Islanders, the Board of Elections will try to immediately put into place its new rule that would make confidential the optional information on voter registrations, "for a period of not longer than one hundred twenty (120) days".

By the way, the next general election in the state of Rhode Island is one hundred eighteen (118) days away from the date of tomorrow's meeting.

Apparently, in the minds of the Rhode Island Board of Elections, the prospect of challengers to incumbent office holders making use of public information resources that have been regularly available in prior election cycles (the incumbents will still have their info from the last time around) has suddenly come to constitute "an imminent peril" in this year.

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What is going on here? How is this an emergency?

Perhaps most puzzling and disturbing, why is the Board of Elections trying to make this change DURING THE VERY WEEK - note to BOE: everyone's out getting signatures! - that candidates would find it most difficult to attend a public meeting and give input?

Posted by: Monique at July 10, 2012 9:17 PM

Someone asked me a very valid question today: Why will they still collect this information (phone/email) going forward, if they are planning to keep it confidential (from us)? Why bother asking for it?

My guess is that the "emergency" is that some incumbent's campaign is failing. As we all know, the best rules are made very quickly, under a cloak of darkness, with as little public input, and as much secrecy as possible...

Considering that the political parties and all the major campaigns already have copies of the current voter list, with phone and e-mail (if the voter chose to provide it), this is just an attempt to harm political challengers' ability to build databases of potential/likely supporters for use in the future.

The main effect is that it would make political campaigns much more expensive going forward, thereby favoring incumbents and the highly organized or monied, since politicians would be forced to do more mailings to reach out to voters.

More importantly, it would prevent access to information for NEW (Obama?) registered voters, so that over time, the information already in such programs as Voter Vault and rVotes would get more stale and ineffective.

It looks like a case of a proposed solution in search of a problem to justify it.

PS The "emergency" RI Board of Elections meeting is at 3:30 PM on Wednesday, at 50 Branch Avenue, in Providence.

Posted by: Will at July 10, 2012 11:01 PM

Yet there is no clear,detailed definition of "imminent peril?"

Posted by: helen at July 11, 2012 1:07 AM

The only imminent peril is that the RI Republican Strike Force is making inroads on displacing DEMOCRAT incumbents.

People do not go OUCH or YOU'RE NOT PLAYING FAIR if they are winning the game.

Posted by: Roland at July 11, 2012 7:55 AM

To these - the shady and underhanded - we replace our Anchor with the Hammer. Voters know, they're not that stupid; 2nd highest unemployment, taxed to death, jobs leaving, and whose in charge? When nearly EVERY household has been touched by job loss, depressed pay, multiple millions unaccounted for and 'duh' answers from those in charge - not to mention Target 12 that has a field day with so many 'workers' and 'protectors' and 'leaders' on the dole who should be in orange jumpsuits...this just seals your fate. :-)

Posted by: bearded1 at July 11, 2012 8:24 AM

We all have a duty - to replace everyone from whom we get even a wiff of impropriety. No more connected people! And no more pay for legislators. It is a part time job that should be voluntary.

Posted by: Guy at July 11, 2012 8:53 AM

"Voters know, they're not that stupid;"

They don't and they are. That's why we're in this mess. Plus, if they did know and they're not stupid, then why weren't people knocking down the doors to run for office? Why do we still have legislators running unopposed? Why do polls show candidates like David Cicilline getting any support at all? He shouldn't be able to beat a ham sandwich, never mind any actual living, breathing human being. Or Gordon Fox with his "I don't know" answers about 38 Studios yet he was one of the people who helped set up the deal and was an insider on it from the beginning. Sure, he has an opponent, but there should be 10 people lined up to take him on. Same in Newport. How about Dominic Ruggerio, where's the line to take him on? Senator Ciccone? The list goes on and on.
Some people get it but unfortunately not enough. Prove me wrong, people.

Posted by: Patrick at July 11, 2012 10:34 AM
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