Assembly passes Rep. O’Brien and Sen. Archambault’s legislation that lets disabled and military voters use electronically transmitted ballots
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed Rep. William W. O’Brien and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault’s legislation which entitles disabled and military voters to utilize electronically transmitted ballots.
“The amount of people who participate in our elections goes up when we make voting easier. This is especially true for our brave members of the military serving our democracy and our residents who are disabled and unable to get to the polls. This bill is particularly important to disabled veterans, such as those who are blind, since this legislation will allow them to vote independently without anyone else’s help, affording them the voting privacy that so many of us take for granted. The bill will allow these individuals to vote in a safe, secure, convenient and independent way so that their voices are heard on Election Day,” said Representative O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence).
“As we continue to make voting easier and more secure for all of our residents, we must not forget about our residents who are unable to safely access the polls or traditional mail ballots. In particular, our blind and disabled veterans especially have difficultly casting their votes within the current voting system. This bill will allow these individuals to cast their vote safely, privately and securely, backed by the cyber protection protocols of the federal government, so that they may exercise their constitutional right of voting,” said Senator Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston).
The legislation (2022-H 6656, 2022-S 2118A) states that eligible disabled voters shall be entitled to electronically receive and return their mail ballot using the same electronic transmission system used by voters covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
The electronic system chosen by the secretary of state to accomplish this initiative must have had one or more independent security reviews and meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework guidelines.
Disabled voters are defined as a disabled person eligible to vote who is incapacitated to such an extent that it would be an undue hardship to vote at the polls because of illness, mental or physical disability, blindness or a serious impairment of mobility.
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.