BOE Officials Involved in Unlawful 2008 Rules Change Should Step Down or Be Removed
Renewed calls for independent investigation,
House & Senate Oversight hearings
Providence, RI – With the lawyer for the RI Board of Elections (BOE) all but admitting that the state has not been in compliance with federal law since the BOE adopted a controversial 2008 regulation, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity calls for the immediate removal of any BOE official that was involved with that unlawful 2008 decision.
At its Monday meeting, the BOE board directed its lawyer to propose fixes to the loophole created in 2008, which no longer required proper identification for those registering, in person, to vote … as required by 2003 federal law.
The Center asserts that current BOE attorney, Raymond Marcaccio (BOE legal council in 2008), current BOE commissioner, Richard Pierce (BOE commissioner in 2008), and current BOE Executive Director, Robert Rapoza (BOE director of elections in 2008) have demonstrated incompetence in allowing Rhode Island’s voter registration process to fail to comply with federal law … and therefore should no longer maintain their positions of responsibility.
The Center also calls on current BOE commissioner Steve Erickson to be removed, given his publicly stated reluctance to bringing the RI BOE into compliance with federal law.
“Despite baseless attacks against Ken Block, it turns out that his research was accurate,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Now that we know federal law was effectively bypassed in 2008, justice is demanded by holding accountable those people responsible. It is now more obvious than ever that formal inquiries need to be launched.”
The core question raised in recent months by Ken Block, and the subject of a complaint he filed with the US Department of Justice, is whether or not the State of Rhode Island has been in compliance with federal election law (HAVA). That answer, as confirmed by the BOE attorney himself, now appears to be YES … however the status of any federal investigation is unknown.
Given these developments, the Center again renews its call for an independent investigation be initiated by the Governor and for the House and Senate Oversight Committees to hold emergency fall hearings to look into potential unlawful registration and voting guidelines and practices.
“No longer can state officials stick their heads in the sand and pretend that serious malfeasance at the BOE has not occurred. Executive and legislative branch leaders should immediately move to have responsible parties relieved of their positions,” continued Stenhouse. “In further demanding accountability, I challenge the Governor, our US Congressional delegation, and all candidates for such offices to demand that investigations be initiated so that Rhode Islanders can know who else may have been complicit, and why.”
The Center also demands that the damage inflicted by this evasion of federal law be remedied by proactively and verifiably backfilling missing voter registration information. The related announcement made yesterday by Secretary Of State, Nellie Gorbea, appears to be an inadequate approach.
Earlier this fall, The Ocean State Current (The Current) published an analysis of a 2008 BOE rules change that removed an important section on the state’s application form for voter registration.
The Center has recommended additional items be investigated and that further potential actions be taken, with regard to the state’s overall election process:
- Review of Rhode Island’s “Motor Voter” and automatic registration policies to determine if they comply with federal law
- Review of state’s absentee mail ballot, emergency voting, and voter ID laws to ensure they comport with the reformed voter registration process
- Consider a constitutional amendment to codify appropriate reforms so as to ensure election integrity for future generations
- State or Federal lawsuit on behalf of potentially disenfranchised voters, in order to assure prompt and clear action to cure any legal defects in advance of the next election cycle