The Rhode Island Board of Elections (RI BOE) heard a string of objections to nomination papers decisions made by local Boards of Canvassers across the state. There were nine objections brought before the board. Most of the objections concerned signatures disqualified and candidates who fell short of their required number of signatures were asking for some signatures to be accepted, overruling their local Board of Canvassers.
Paul Caianiello Jr, an Independent candidate for House District 26 in Providence, did not attend the hearing so will not be on the ballot, as his count of 46 out of the required 50 signatures stands.
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente is a Republican candidate for United States Senator in Rhode Island. Attorney Richard Kirby, on behalf of Marion O’Brien, maintained that Rhode Island law requires a primary candidate, on the date of declaration, to be a qualified voter. De La Fuente, said Kirby, lives in California.
Attorney Raymond Marcaccio, legal counsel for the RI BOE, said that running for United States Senator is a United States Constitutional issue, and that Rhode Island cannot impose limits outside of the Constitution.
Ultimately De La Fuente was allowed to remain on the ballot in the Republican primary in Rhode Island, as long as he can show that he is a Rhode Island resident on the day of the election.
The second case decided by the board was that of Jason Coutu, a Democratic candidate for West Warwick Town Council Ward 2. Though Coutu had the required number of signatures, the West Warwick Board of Canvassers removed Coutu from the election because they decided that his job, as a clerk with the Rhode Island Supreme Court, violated the Hatch Act.
RI BOE Vice Chair Stephen Erickson said that he had never heard of a local Board of Canvassers deciding on the legality of a Hatch Act issue. Normally, a candidate would go through the election process and the employer would be responsible for making sure the employee was in compliance with the Hatch Act.
The RI BOE unanimously decided to over rule the West Warwick Board of Canvassers and allow Coutu on the ballot.
Dorinne Albright, is a Republican candidate for District 25 in West Warwick and Coventry. Albright was represented by RI GOP Chairman Brandon Bell. The RI BOE approved an additional signature, giving her the required 50 signatures she needed to stay on the ballot.
Ronald Andruchuk, Republican candidate for House District 14 in Cranston, failed to convince the RI BOE to approve the six signatures he would need to be on the ballot. This means that the incumbent, Charlene Lima, is running unopposed in November.
Carlos Cedeno is running as a Democrat for Senate District 6 in Providence. He had 111 signatures and qualified to be on the ballot, but Jonathan Hernandez, another Democratic candidate for the seat, objected. The RI BOE overruled the objection, allowing Cedeno to stay on the ballot. The District 6 Senate seat is currently held by Harold Metts.
Tammy Collins, a Republican candidate for House District 26 in West Warwick need two additional signatures to be on the ballot. With the help of RI GOP Chairman Brandon Bell Collins was able to convince the RI BOE to approve two signatures, allowing her on the ballot.
The longest hearing of the night was for Shannon Donahue, Democratic candidate for Senate District 7 in North Providence needed two additional signatures approved by the RI BOE to stay on the ballot. Donahue, with the help of Capri Catanzaro, presented affidavits from people who had their signatures rejected saying that they had indeed signed the nomination papers. Though that evidence was regarded as hearsay, the RI BOE did ultimately approve two signatures, allowing Donahue to stay on the ballot.
An interesting twist came when State Senator Frank Ciccone, who occupies the District 7 Senate seat, objected to Donahue’s complaint before the RI BOE for not being timely. Vice Chair Stephen Erickson pointed out that following Ciccone’s logic, all the cases decided tonight would also not be timely. Ciccone’s objection was overruled.
The last decision of the evening concerned Jessica Stensrud, candidate for State Committeewoman in District 60 in Pawtucket, accused the Pawtucket Board of Canvassers of not giving her the same information and assistance available to other candidates in collecting signatures. As a result, she failed to collect the required number of signatures.
The RI BOE commiserated with Stensrud, but did nothing to help her get on the ballot.
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