Just in – ASTONISHING: RI Supreme Court Allows Portsmouth & Bristol Government to Direct Voters Who to Vote For!
Updated Nov 7, 3:15 PM … RI’s Supreme Court has DENIED the RI GOP appeal, alleging unlawful election interference. Voters will be implicitly directed how to vote in Portsmouth and Bristol.
“They can make laws as they go along,” said a disappointed Sue Cienki, RI GOP chair. “They (just) created a large hole for a write in candidate to demand their information be placed inside the booths … for informational purposes ”
“It appears that the Board of Elections has been awarded the power to do whatever they want,” said Larry Fitzmorris, head of local Portsmouth concerned citizens group.
Updated Nov 7, 2:30 PM … RI Supreme Court justice Goldberg will NOT hold a hearing on this Portsmouth political interference issue; rather, will make a decision based upon the papers submitted by each party. Ruling expected shortly.
Updated Nov 7, 12:00PM … The RI Board of Elections met Friday afternoon at 2:00 PM in Cranston in an emergency meeting to hear the RI Republican complaint against the Portsmouth Board of Canvassers. RI BOE voted unanimously to support the Canvassing Authority actions and also absolved the Bristol Canvassing Board.
Unless RI’s Supreme Court intervenes today, everyone who enters the voting machine booth in Portsmouth and Bristol will see a note that Andrew Kelly has withdrawn from the election for the Senate District 11 seat (implicitly directing voters to cast their ballot for the other Democrat in the race).
RI GOP chairwoman, Sue Cienki, has made an emergency appeal to the RI Superior Court, with a potential hearing this afternoon; RIGOP attorney Dan Reilly is at the court, awaiting word. A hearing is not guaranteed, or the Judge might rule without a hearing. Stay tuned for updates.
Cienki and others involved in the case are also expected to appear on In The Dugout with Mike Stenhouse, today at 4:00PM at OceanStateCurrent.com/LIVE .
The back story is below:
The Portsmouth Town of Canvassers, according the Sue Cienki, chairwoman of the RI GOP and an attorney, plans to continue to engage in unlawful interference in the state Senate District 11 race.
On Thursday, at a hearing of the local canvassing board, Cienki filed a letter of protest, demanding that notices posted in the media and at early voting locations, which clearly favor the Democrat candidate for the open seat, are a violation of state election laws and should not be continued at voting precincts on November 8. The Portsmouth Board of Canvassers rejected Cienki’s appeal and voted to continue with their notices on election day.
In a brief discussion with her this morning, Cienki informed The Current that she has called for – and has been granted – an emergency hearing at the statewide RI Board of Elections, which will be held today at 1:00 PM.
Here’s the back story. The District 11 state Senate seat became an open seat when incumbent James Seveney chose not to seek re-election. Four challengers declared their candidacy, submitted the required signatures, and saw their names printed on the official election ballots; Democrat candidate Linda Ujifusa, Republican candidate Ken Mendonca, and two independent candidates Mario Teixeira and Andrew Kelly.
In mid-October, Kelly, a former Democrat who would clearly siphon votes away from Ujifusa, announced that he was withdrawing from the race, sending an official notice the RI Board of Elections the next week.
CLICK HERE FOR A PDF OF THE RI GOP COMPLAINT LETTER and RELATED COMMUNICATIONS
See the end of this article for an official statement from the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens group.
What ensued next is where the alleged illegality began. With the ballots already printed, and with early voting about to begin, the Portsmouth Board of Canvassers sprang into action, clearly looking to influence voters away from casting their vote for Kelly, whose name was still on the ballot … and, instead by extension, toward the other left-leaning candidate in the race, the Democrat Ujifusa.
According to unconfirmed reports, Jacqueline Schulz, registrar of voters for the town of Portsmout Canvassing Authority, reached out to someone at the RI Board of Elections and was told that it was OK to post announcements about Kelly’s withdrawal. Who Schulz spoke with and exactly what was discussed is not known.
The Portsmouth canvassing board began posting notices in local media, while also putting up signs in early voting locales – advising the public and voters that Andrew Kelly was no longer a candidate. The board’s plan was to continue with the notices by placing signs at every voting precinct when voters turn out on election day. During Thursday’s meeting in Portsmouth, Cienki also claimed that town of Bristol (the D11 Senate seats also includes portions of Bristol) is also engaged in posting similar notices.
The basis of the illegality claims by the RI Republican party arises because the official RI Board of Elections deadline date for candidates to withdraw is July 18. Kelly withdrew three months after this date. According to Cienki, there is no legal authorization for the Portsmouth Board of Canvassers to “comment” on any local election in anyway after July 18. The board counters that there is no law prohibiting them from doing so; they also claim it is their responsibility to inform the public.
So now, Cienki, who believes the canvassing board’s “comments” constitutes clear partisan interference in the election, will take her case to the state board of elections.
Local citizens contacted by The Current are not confident that the RI BOE will uphold the law. Last year, in an unrelated incident, the BOE did not act to stop what many felt were other unlawful actions by the PBOC. If the RI BOE rejects Cienki’s appeal, Rhode Island’s Supreme Court could be the next step.
Check back on this story this afternoon for results from today’s emergency Board Of Elections hearing.
Official Statement of Objection
The Portsmouth Concerned Citizens object to the decision by the Portsmouth Board of Canvassers to continue the use of signs at precinct polling stations in the Town of Portsmouth to provide notice to voters that candidate Andrew Kelly has withdrawn from the race for Rhode Island Senate District 11. In our view, the Board lacks the authority under law to make statements supportive of candidates. In this case, this statement aided the campaign of Linda Ujifusa, Democratic candidate for Senate District 11, as Mr. Kelly is in fact a Democrat running as an independent. Mr. Kelly has now endorsed Ms. Ujifusa.
The Portsmouth Board of Canvassers made this decision at its meeting held November 3, 2022, in response to a complaint filed with the Board by Suzanne Cienki, Rhode Island Republican Chair. While Mr. Kelly withdrew from active campaigning in a letter to the Portsmouth Board of Canvassers dated October 21, 2022, the deadline established by the Rhode Island Secretary of State for withdrawal of local candidates is July 18, 2022. Following this deadline for withdrawal, all candidates’ names are required to remain on the ballot without exception, including death.
We believe that the obligation of the Board is to ensure all candidates are treated equally.
In addition, the Board never voted in public to take this action.
Larry Fitzmorris, President Portsmouth Concerned Citizens
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