07/11/12 – Board of Elections

3:27 p.m.
After a quick zip across from the WPRO studios in East Providence, I’m in the Board of Elections hearing room awaiting the board’s vote on withholding phone and email information from voter registrations on an emergency basis. See Andrew Morse’s background report for details.

I’d wager that the attendance is not usually so robust for these events. The chairmen of all three parties are here. Multiple RI Tea Party folks. Ocean State Tea Party in Action folks. Rhode Island Republican Assembly. Other familiar faces. Phil Marcelo from the Providence Journal; Jim Baron.

3:42 p.m.
Executive Director Robert Kando has asked the board to move the controversial item to the top of the list and explained that the reason for wanting to hide phone and email info was a Web site that published them all. He says he thinks the Web site is down.

The board’s lawyer is “somewhat concerned” about passing the rule “in the context of an emergency” circumstance. Advises following normal procedures. He also notes that there’s no statutory language calling such information private.

He’d advise following normal procedures to change policy. Advises that they not take action.

3:45 p.m.
The lawyer advises that they take no action until the new “balancing test” for open information goes into effect in September.

Commissioner Florence Gormley moves to continue to “a date uncertain.”

3:47 p.m.
Unanimously continued. Sparse applause in the audience. Gormley joked that they “never get applause,” to which Chairman Frank Rego quipped that the applause wasn’t loud enough. The audience obliged.

3:55 p.m.
As I do some administrative stuff, one of the people appealing campaign finance fines is giving a personal story of a cyberstalker (really… the only case of its kind in Rhode Island courts, thus far, he says). Sounds like he missed some kind of campaign finance report over the matter.

4:25 p.m.
Still here, dealing with computer issues. It’s interesting how different boards have different flavors. It’s somewhat entertaining… although I can’t say I’d make a regular event of attendance. It appears that the standard result is that first-time violators wind up having to pay 25% of the fines.

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