When Rhode Island Rushed to Make It Easier to Vote (and Cheat)

Are corrupt election officials trying rig the elections in Rhode Island Or is the Board of Elections and the secretary of state completely incompetent

Either way, in its zeal to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to vote, Ocean State election officials—in promoting early voting through use of technology—have made it easily possible to cheat. Or at the very least, it is easy for human error and to affect elections.

Early primary voting was underway in Rhode Island and it was just days after Secretary Nellie Gorbea had proudly launched a digital ExpressVote vote aid, it was revealed and confirmed that 55 voters needed to be disenfranchised.

After the voter has marked a digital ballot on a screen, the ExpressVote machine prints a paper ballot. The paper ballot is then fed into an old-fashioned counting machine. These machines are intended to assist those who might otherwise have difficulty manually marking a ballot.

The problem occurred when machines in Spanish-language mode in at most four cities listed the wrong names. Somehow, candidates from 2018 were erroneously uploaded into the machines by a third-party vendor, rather than this year’s 2022 candidates.

Want even more incompetence? It was later discovered that the name of the Democratic mayoral candidate in Providence, Gonzalo Cuervo, was misspelled as “Gonzolo” on the screen of the ExpressVote ballot-marking machine when displayed in Spanish.

Because of the incorrect digital ballot, some voters voted for people they didn’t even know were running. Since the error was discovered, those 55 ballots were un-counted—and thus 55 unknown voters have been disenfranchised.

Nobody seems to know how the wrong names of candidates were uploaded. But this digital process, just like an insecure mail-ballot process, highlights the many ways—purposefully or inadvertently—that voters and ballots can easily be invalidated.

Apparently, no one at the Secretary of State’s Office or the Board of Elections bothered to double-check or test whether the digital ballots were accurate, each claiming it was someone else’s fault.

This America is a country that lacks responsibility and accountability. It is unacceptable.

Even though many of these questions are unlikely to be answered, it is important to ask so many questions. According to news reports, local polling station volunteers encouraged voters using the digital ExpressVote system even though they were perfectly capable manually filling out ballots. Why?

Did a vendor employee or state official see to it that the incorrect list of candidates was uploaded in order to deceive voters? If so, how could deceiving Spanish-speaking voters benefit from one candidate over another. Or was it human error combined with negligence? Will it soon be known that similar or different errors exist in other machines located in other cities?

Regardless, the push by the left to “expand access” as much as possible has once again led to a serious, and previously avoidable, voting problem. The potential for corruption and criminality is high with so many people coding, uploading or potentially being able hack into these vulnerable computers.

In fact, Americans have learned in recent years that an election process in which voter identification, ballot integrity and chain of custody are not valid or where software technology is involved with the marking or counting ballots is not secure.

It’s not acceptable to identify a flaw in the voting process after the fact—as Rhode Island officials are bragging—in trying to sweep the incident under the rug.

“55 Rhode Island voters will experience real-life voter disenfranchisement due to sloppy work by Rhode Island elections officials. Not one elected official, elections official, or advocate has used the words ‘disenfranchised’ or ‘disenfranchisement’ when discussing this issue,” said Ken Block, two-time gubernatorial candidate in Rhode Island, a state election watchdog, and a former member of the National Task Force on Election Crises.

The ExpressVote machine-error incident is certain to increase public distrust in election integrity.

As in many other states, Rhode Island’s 2020 vote tabulations, which appeared to be going one direction on election night, had suddenly swung the other way by morning, when mail-in ballots had been counted overnight.

Candidates and the public had many questions and concerns. However, state election officials claimed that it was the safest election ever.

We now know better.

One of the first blue states in America to implement a strong voter-ID law, Rhode Island’s more recent track record has served to weaken public confidence in its election integrity.

As we saw in other states during the 2020 election cycle when responding to the pandemic, the then-Rhode Island governor. Gina Raimondo, with the support of Gorbea, unilaterally and unconstitutionally altered the state’s voting process, via executive order, by funding and promoting mass mail-ballot voting, indiscriminately sending mail-ballot applications to every registered voter in the state, and further compounding the potential for fraud by also eliminating related and long-standing voter-validation provisions.  

Not only were these major election changes done without the state legislature’s approval, but the General Assembly specifically failed to pass identical legislation in its earlier spring legislative session.

A related lawsuit was also dismissed on frivolous grounds. The judge stated that the General Assembly as the government entity whose authority had been superseded under the executive order, refused to accept the role of co-plaintiff.

Then, during this year’s session, the state legislature got back in line with the hard-left by passing controversial “Let R.I. Vote” legislation, which codified much of the temporary 2020 election changes—expanding early voting, allowing mail-in ballots without proper ID procedures, and mandating dropboxes in every city and town, all while doing nothing to address the free-for-all ballot-harvesting problem that is still not illegal in our state.

And it could get even worse in the Ocean State, as there’s a well-organized effort—backed by Big Labor and traditional left-wing advocacy groups—to next implement online or email voting, as well as same-day registration. Hopefully, this disaster on the ballot-machine will stop such error-prone solutions.

Our elections must be as secure and free from danger as possible at all stages of the process. Justice is not served when laws designed to “expand access to vote” end up expanding the number of voters who are disenfranchised.

In making it easier to vote, Rhode Island election officials are clearly making it easier to cheat—or be cheated.

The Daily Signal offers a variety perspectives. This article is not meant to represent the views of The Heritage Foundation.


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