After Matos scandal, R.I. Board of Elections urged to investigate all signatures

John Marion talks about the signature matching system in Rhode Island.

This article originally appeared in the Boston Globe on July 31, 2023 and was written by Edward Fitzpatrick.  

John M. Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said he, too, believes the Board of Elections can review signatures submitted to any and all boards of canvassers, even without a complaint, because the state board has clear statutory oversight powers over local election officials.

“So they could have done that at that (July 19) meeting instead of kicking that issue to Peter Neronha and relying on the somewhat inconsistent work of the local boards of canvassers,” he said. “Despite the deficit complaint from Carlson, they had the ability in his absence, to review any complaint.”

But at this point, ballots have been printed and sent to military and overseas voters, Marion said. “So I don’t see a path for the Board of Elections or the secretary of state to claw back the ballot,” he said. Rhode Island might even run afoul of federal law if it attempted to recall those ballots now, he said.

Still, Marion said he sees value in the Board of Elections examining all of the signatures submitted in the First Congressional District race to evaluate the performance of the local boards of canvassers. “We would learn from a review which boards of canvassers performed well and which didn’t,” he said, “and we would learn what needs to be fixed for the next time.”

Marion noted that more elections are coming up next year, and he said, “It is squarely the Board of Elections’ responsibility to supervise the 39 boards of canvassers in the State of Rhode Island.”

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