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2/6/2018 Shekarchi bill would increase Board of Elections transparency
Legislation supported by Common Cause R.I.

STATE HOUSE – House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi has introduced legislation to increase the transparency of the state Board of Elections.

Leader Shekarchi’s bill (2018-H 7438) would make the Board of Elections subject to the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, meaning the Board of Elections would have to adhere to standards involving public notice and allowing public comment on any changes to its regulations.

“As the agency that most directly affects the democratic process, the Board of Elections should be open and transparent in its work. The legislation will ensure that any regulations the board adopts are developed in the public eye, with all due scrutiny and with every opportunity for the public to weigh in. It’s a good government bill that will enhance transparency,” said Leader Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick).

Under the Administrative Procedures Act, the Board of Elections would be required to submit proposed new regulations to the Office of Regulatory Reform for approval, to notify the public in advance that it is considering changing the regulation and to provide a public comment period of at least 30 days before adopting the regulation. It must also hold a public hearing on the change if one is requested by at least 25 people, another government agency or an organization with at least 25 members.

Leader Shekarchi also sponsored the 2016 law that modernized the Administrative Procedures Act and, among other things, incorporated use of web-based technology for increased access and transparency.

“The Administrative Procedures Act provides important protections for the public when government boards and agencies make their rules. The Board of Elections should be subject to those requirements, like the vast majority of state government to ensure that their actions are always in the public interest. With the recent reforms of the Administrative Procedures Act now is the perfect time to bring the Board of Elections under its auspices,” said John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island.

The legislation was introduced Thursday and has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. It is cosponsored by Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket), Rep. Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), Rep. Brian Newberry (R-Dist. 48, North Smithfield, Burrillville) and Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923