With the revelation of two suspicious RI BOE rules changes, we call on the House Oversight Committee to hold emergency fall hearings.

Unlawful BOE Rules Changes? Center Calls for Oversight Hearings, in Addition to Independent Investigation, to Look Into Rhode Island Election Irregularities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 9, 2017

Board of Election Rules Changes Designed to Lessen Election Integrity in Rhode Island?

In RI, possible to apply, be registered, and vote without ever providing legally required personally identifying information?

Center adds call for House Oversight hearings, in addition to Independent Investigation, re. apparent election irregularities

Providence, RI – The revelation today of two past cases of suspicious RI Board of Elections (BOE) rules changes prompted the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity to call on the House Oversight Committee to hold emergency fall hearings to look into potential illegal registration and voting guidelines. This, in addition to the Center’s previous call on the Governor and/or the Attorney General to initiate an independent investigation.

The Ocean State Current (The Current) published today an analysis of a 2008 BOE rules change that removed an important section on the state’s application form for voter registration. Prior to 2008 and after new federal law in 2003, an applicant had to check a box … stating that no drivers license or social security number had (ever) been issued to the person by the state or federal government … as reason to accept alternative (less conclusive) identification credentials. Since 2008 this section and checkbox no longer appears on the form (lessening legal risk to disingenuous applicants?). Comparative images of the altered forms can be found in the article on The Current, which is the Center’s own journalism and blog website.


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The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

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Also today, Ken Block published new research about another questionable BOE rules change in 2012. This promulgated rule effectively exempts anyone who votes via mail ballot or via emergency voting from state voter ID requirements. According to Block, over 40,000 such votes were cast in 2016 by voters who have been improperly exempted from providing voter identification as required by Rhode Island’s voter ID law, RI General Law 17-19-24.2. This improper exemption may have also led to violations of federal voting law, specifically the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which requires that voters who do not supply personally identifying information when they register, must submit that information the first time that they vote.

“In addition to the Governor and Attorney General, it is the responsibility of Chairwoman Serpa to call her committee into session to determine if the State of Rhode Island is violating state and federal elections law,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “In Rhode Island, it appears that the BOE and the Secretary of State’s office, over the years, have purposely left the door open for individuals to register to vote … and cast a vote … without ever providing personally identifying information as required by state and federal law. As I previously commented, the magnitude of these findings potentially shake the very foundation of our state’s democracy … and must be officially investigated.”

The Center has also demanded a public statement from the Office of the Secretary of State and from the Board Of Elections ,s which meets this Wednesday to consider these claims, to specifically declare whether or not current voter registration practices are in compliance with federal law.

The Center further recommends additional items be investigated and that potential actions be taken, with regard to the state’s overall election process:

  • Executive order or legislation requiring Rhode Island’s Secretary of State to backfill PII information for the hundreds of thousands of voter registrations that are missing this information.
  • 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

Last month Block previously released research of 2016 election voting research showing that every RI city and town had registered voters with missing personally identifying information, as required by federal law. Block also sent a letter of complaint to the US Justice Department, along with detailed city-by-city and district-by-district charts – both can be viewed here.

According to Block’s research, results from the 2016 General Election show that more than thirty percent (over 143,000 votes) of the total votes cast were from voters who did not have a validating drivers license or social security number on file in Rhode Island’s voter registration system. In every city and town in the Ocean State at least 20% of all votes cast last November, were by individuals without such personally identifying information (PII) on record. In five towns, over 40% of voters had no listed PII.


The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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