House OKs Shanley bill to establish secure, transparent mail ballot signature review and certification process
STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today approved legislation introduced by Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) that would allow for the early certification of mail ballots.
The bill (2021-H 5890A) would also establish a new and more comprehensive mail ballot voter signature verification process.
“This legislation establishes a transparent review process by requiring two people to review and compare each voter’s signature with the signature found in the Central Voter Registration System,” explained Representative Shanley. “The CVRS is a statewide database that includes the signatures that are found on voter registration cards, making it easy for officials to verify those signatures on mail ballots.”
The legislation would also allow the Board of Elections to begin the certification of mail ballots 20 days prior to Election Day and require notice of such certification sessions.
“As we see a large increase in the number of mail ballots cast, the Board of Elections needs more time to process and count them,” said Representative Shanley. “The current law allows for counting 14 days prior to the election. Increasing that to 20 days will not only give the board more time, it will also put the board in a better position to begin announcing results once the polls are closed. Last year there was a six-day change by executive order and it made a real difference.”
During the 2016 presidential election, the Board of Elections received about 45,000 mail ballots. That number increased to more than 170,000 mail ballots for the 2020 election.
The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2021-S 0623) has been introduced by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).
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