Package of election legislation heads to Governor Raimondo for signature
STATE HOUSE – A package of legislation that aims to make election days in Rhode Island run more efficiently and smoother is heading to Governor Raimondo’s desk for signature after passing both the House of Representatives and the Senate tonight. The three bills deal with primary officials, instruction on new voting machines, and election equipment availability.
“Efficient, seamless, and accessible elections are the bedrock of our democratic society and these bills will further improve the voting process for our state’s voters. We must adapt to changing times and new technologies to ensure our elections run as smooth as possible and these bills will accomplish this crucial goal,” said Sen. Erin Lynch Prata, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston).
The first bill (2017-S 0793A / 2017-H 6008aa), sponsored by Senator Lynch Prata and Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) that passed the Senate tonight would allow a person appointed as a primary official to be an employee of the United States, of this state, or of any city or town of this state. The bill is a response to a lack of poll workers on primary election days.
“Our elections cannot run properly if our polling sites are not adequately staffed. This bill will ensure that the proper amount of support staff is available to the voters on Election Day, thus allowing the voters to utilize their right to vote in the easiest way possible,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson.
The second bill (2017-S 0794 / 2017-H 5701), sponsored by Senator Lynch Prata and Rep. Joseph J. Solomon, Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick) gives local boards discretion to designate times and places where optical scan voting equipment and sample ballots are exhibited for instructional purposes. This legislation is in response to confusion over how new voting machines operated during the last election cycle and hopes to rectify long wait times and confusion as a result of the new voting machines.
“When new state-of-the-art equipment is used, confusion always takes place in how to use the new technology and voting machines are no different. This bill will allow our voters to educate themselves about how these new machines work so that on Election Day, they can vote as easily and quickly as possible,” said Representative Solomon.
The third bill (2017-S 0802 / 2017-H 5703), sponsored by Senator Lynch Prata and Rep. Helder J. Cunha (D-Dist. 64, East Providence) requires that election supplies furnished by the Board of Elections would be delivered to or picked up by the proper officer as determined by the board no later than 12 p.m. on the day before the election in order to adequately set up and become acquainted with the election materials and equipment before election day.
“Our election staffers cannot help the public on Election Day if they are not familiar with the new technology and procedures of our voting machines. This bill ensures that election staff have an adequate amount of time to educate themselves regarding the new voting machines so that they are able to assist the public properly on Election Day,” said Representative Cunha.
For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903