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Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


2008 Key Questions for Key States

Rhode Island

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Rhode Island can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Other appointed board

Chief election authority: The State Board of Elections performs most supervisory functions. § 17-7-5. However, the Secretary of State performs certain record-keeping functions, including regulation of the voter registration database. § 17-6-1 et seq.

Method of selection: The State Board of Elections is appointed by the governor. § 17-7-3. There are no concrete rules governing the partisan composition of the Board, although the statutes do contain a statement of legislative intent that says the Board should be “representative of all citizens of the state and of their diverse points of view.” § 17-7-1. The Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that this language is “clearly hortatory or directory rather than mandatory.” Roch v. Garrahy, 419 A.2d 827, 831 (R.I., 1980). The Secretary of State is elected. Const. Art. IV, § 1.

Current officer: N/A (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

Unknown affiliation/appointed

Method of selection: Gubernatorial appointment with advice and consent of state legislature. Const. Art. X, § 4.

Justices: Frank J. Williams (appointed by R), Maureen McKenna Goldberg (appointed by R), Francis X. Flaherty (D), Paul A. Suttell (R), William P. Robinson (D) (Last updated 12/22/07)

Sources:

  • American Judicature Society, Judicial Selection in the States: Rhode Island
  • New state Supreme Court justice to be sworn in, AP Alert – Rhode Island, September 7, 2004, 15:33:04.
  • From nominee to associate justice – Robinson lauded, sworn in as New Supreme Court justice, Providence Journal Bulletin, September 8, 2004.
  • Carcieri nominates Robinson to state’s high court, AP Alert – Political, May 27, 2004, 20:02:59.
  • Carcieri has chance to shape state’s high court, AP Alert – Political, May 20, 2004, 20:56:50.

Voter Registration

EL@M did not research this topic for Rhode Island

Challenges

EL@M did not research this topic for Rhode Island

Provisional Ballots

EL@M did not research this topic for Rhode Island

Early and Absentee Voting

EL@M did not research this topic for Rhode Island

Voting Technology

EL@M did not research this topic for Rhode Island

Polling Place Operations

Polling place closing times - local times

9:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

9:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

EL@M did not research this topic for Rhode Island

Emergency Preparedness

EL@M did not research this topic for Rhode Island

Post-Election Processes

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Unclear whether contest permitted

Unclear whether Presidential contests are allowed. Local boards of election are authorized to assume judicial powers “in all cases of every nature pending before them….” § 17-8-7. However, Rhode Island law does not explicitly authorize election contests per se, and it is not clear that candidates can file an election contest with local boards. Instead, it may be that these boards may act only on their own initiative. Factual findings made by these boards are final and will not be overturned by any court. Gainer v. Dunn, 69 A. 336, 337 (R.I., 1908).

However, Rhode Island law generally authorizes individuals to try title to an office in a quo warranto proceeding. § 10-14-1. However, it is not clear that this procedure is intended to remedy irregularities in the conduct of an election, as opposed to problems with a candidate’s eligibility for office (insufficient age, felony conviction, etc.). The state supreme court has original jurisdiction over quo warranto proceedings. 

Who Performs Presidential recounts?

Unconstrained

The State Board of Elections performs recounts in both general and primary elections. 17-19-37.1; 17-12.1-14. There are no concrete rules governing the partisan composition of the Board, although the statutes do contain a statement of legislative intent that says the Board should be “representative of all citizens of the state and of their diverse points of view.” 17-7-1. The Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that this language is “clearly hortatory or directory rather than mandatory.” Roch v. Garrahy, 419 A.2d 827, 831 (R.I., 1980). Recounts are conducted publicly and candidates or their representatives may attend. CRIR 32-000-025. Notably, mail ballots and provisional ballots cannot be part of the recount. Id.