Election integrity bill passes General Assembly
 

Legislation establishes clarity on reporting suspicious signatures on nomination papers

 

STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today approved legislation to establish a clear process for reporting and investigating cases of suspected signature fraud involving candidates’ nomination papers.

The legislation, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Dawn Euer and Rep. June S. Speakman on behalf of Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore, now goes to the governor.

The legislation (2024-H 7664A, 2024-S 3058) would codify a clear process for local boards of canvassers to immediately notify the State Board of Elections if there is a specific pattern of forgery or fraud involving signatures on a local, state or federal candidate’s nomination papers.

The legislation is a response to nomination papers submitted in the 1st congressional district race last summer that included purported signatures of numerous deceased individuals. A campaign contractor and a paid signature gatherer working for her have been charged in the case.

That situation brought to light a lack of clarity in how local elections officials should report cases of questionable signatures.

“I readily agreed to introduce this bill on Secretary Amore’s behalf because I share his commitment to the integrity of the electoral process,” said Representative Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol). “I am honored to sponsor this bill as it addresses and resolves concerns about the signature-gathering process that emerged in a recent election and ensures that any concerns that arise are resolved quickly, clearly and with transparency.”

Said Chairwoman Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), “I am happy to sponsor this important bill from Secretary Amore that lays out clear, transparent and sensible procedures to ensure the integrity of the nomination paper process. In particular, it facilitates communication and cooperation between the boards of canvassers so that local election officials are not alone on an island when they find something that looks amiss.”

Under the legislation, the Board of Elections would issue a written determination of whether there is an instance of forgery and whether a candidate would qualify on the ballot regardless of forgery allegations.

This legislation would take effect in 2025. The Board of Elections — which already carried out a similar process when forgery was suspected on nomination papers for presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy — is in the process of creating rules and regulations on this issue to ensure there is a process in place for this summer’s signature period. Still, codifying it into state law would provide clarity, permanence and provide the public with confidence in the election system.

“This legislation codifies a clear, direct process through which any question regarding the validity of nomination papers can be quickly reviewed and addressed in a transparent manner – making sure there is no room for doubt in the security of this important elections process,” said Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore. “I thank the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives, especially Chairwoman Euer and Representative Speakman, for their support of this legislation and their dedication to ensuring voter confidence in our elections systems.”

 

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