Chapter 234

2003 -- S 0481 AS AMENDED

Enacted 07/15/03





     Introduced By: Senators DaPonte, Connors, Pichardo, and Lanzi

     Date Introduced: February 13, 2003



It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:


     SECTION 1. Section 17-7-5 of the General Laws in Chapter 17-7 entitled "State Board of

Elections" is hereby amended to read as follows:

     17-7-5. Powers and duties -- Quorum. -- (a) The state board has those functions,

powers, and duties that are prescribed by this title or otherwise pursuant to law. In the exercise of

these functions, powers, and duties, but without limitation, the board shall:

      (1) Exercise general supervision of the administration of the election law by local


      (2) Furnish all binders, forms, cabinets, and other supplies required for the operation of

the system of permanent registration of voters throughout the state, as provided by this title;

      (3) Require the correction of voting lists by any local board, whenever the state board

has information or cause to believe that any error exists in the lists and shall immediately notify

the secretary of state of any corrections;

      (4) Have responsibility for supervising the vendor to the extent that services under the

jurisdiction of the state board are performed by the vendor as prescribed by section 17-19-3.

      (5) Prepare, package, and deliver election supplies to the various cities and towns for

each voting district except for supplies listed in this title for delivery by the office of the secretary

of state;

      (6) (i) Appoint, qualify, and assign all state inspectors of elections. The state board of

elections shall formulate programs of instruction and shall determine the method and manner of

instruction which shall be provided to the local boards and to the vendor providing training

pursuant to any agreement between the state and the vendor for the training of election officials.

The program of instruction shall include familiarization with the election laws and duties of

various election officials, together with the exercise of sample situations which may be

encountered in the process of voting, geographical boundaries of the voting district to which the

official may be assigned, offices and questions which may be on the ballot, and any other

information that the board of elections may deem appropriate. The availability of these programs

of instruction for local boards shall be pursuant to the procedures, rules, and regulations adopted

by the board of elections;

      (ii) The board of elections shall also formulate and provide an informational pamphlet

containing detailed instructions regarding the duties of elections officials and the operation of

polling places. All informational pamphlets shall be distributed to the local boards who shall, in

turn, see to their distribution to all election officials prior to any election;

      (7) Canvass and tabulate all votes cast at each state election; and count, canvass, and

tabulate the votes cast by mail-in vote as provided in this title;

      (8) Select dates for off year and special election primaries, except the dates for those

primaries for local elections that are required to be fixed by the local board pursuant to chapter 15

of this title;

      (9) Furnish each elected candidate for all state or national offices a certificate of election;

      (10) Furnish the secretary of state with a certified statement of the number of votes cast

in each voting district for all state and national candidates, the votes cast for and against all state

questions which appeared on the ballot, and a certificate of election for each national candidate

who is elected in this state, and furnish the governor with a certified list of the general officers

elected at each general election;

      (11) Hold hearings relating to recounts or other protests of the results or conduct of an


      (12) Maintain any books and records of the votes cast, and publish any statements and

reports that it may deem to be in the public interest;

      (13) Arrange and make provisions for the registration of voters pursuant to the National

Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993, 42 U.S.C. section 1973gg et seq. The state board shall

formulate programs to assist those persons or organizations desiring to register voters and shall

provide, pursuant to procedures, rules, and regulations it shall adopt, voter registrations services

which may include: training sessions, registration materials, manuals and other services for the

purpose of registering to vote eligible Rhode Island citizens; and

      (14) Annually conduct a voter registration drive at each institution of higher education at

the level of junior college or above in the state. ; and

     (15) Establish and maintain an administrative complaint procedure in accordance with

Section 402 of the Help America Vote Act (P.L. 107-252).

      (b) The state board also has all of the powers and duties formerly conferred or imposed

by existing law upon the division of elections and the election board, and whenever in any other

general law, public law, act, or resolution of the general assembly, or any document, record, or

proceeding authorized by the general assembly, the phrase "division of elections" or "election

board" or any other word or words used in reference to or descriptive of the division, board, or

any member or employee of them, or to their respective activities or appointees, or any of them,

the word, phrase, or reference shall, unless the context otherwise requires, be deemed to refer to

and describe the state board, its members, appointees, and activities, as the context may require.

      (c) The state board has power to make the rules, regulations, and directives that it deems

necessary to carry out the objects and purposes of this title not inconsistent with law.

      (d) The state board also has jurisdiction over all election matters on appeal from any

local board and over any other matters pertinent and necessary to the proper supervision of the

election laws.

      (e) Four (4) members of the state board constitutes a quorum.

     (f) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 42-35-18(b)(22), all rules and regulations

implementing and enforcing the provisions of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-252)

shall be promulgated in accordance with the rule-making provisions contained in section 42-35-1

through section 42-35-8.

     SECTION 2. Chapter 17-19 of the General Laws entitled "Conduct of Election and

Voting Equipment, and Supplies" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

     17-19-24.1. Provisional voting under the Help America Vote Act of 2002. – (a) If an

individual’s name does not appear on the certified voting list as provided for in section 17-19-

24(b) and the individual is eligible to vote in an election for federal office or an election official

asserts that the individual is not eligible to vote in the district in which the individual desires to

vote, then the individual shall be permitted to cast a provisional ballot as provided in Section 302

of the Help America Vote Act (P.L. 107-252).

     (b) Provisional ballots provided for in this section shall be cast in accordance with rules

and regulations which shall be promulgated by the state board of elections in accordance with the

Help America Vote Act (P.L. 107-252).

     SECTION 3. Section 17-20-6.1 of the General Laws in Chapter 17-20 entitled "Mail

Ballots" is hereby amended to read as follows:

     17-20-6.1. Alternative methods of voting by citizens covered by the Uniformed and

Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). -- It is the intent and purpose that the

provisions set forth in this section are designed to facilitate the federal mandate of the Uniformed

and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA, 42 U.S.C. 1973ff et seq.)

      (1) The Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) may be used as a request for an absentee

ballot by:

      (i) A member of the armed forces who is absent from the state by reason of being in

active service;

      (ii) Any person absent from the state in performance of "services intimately connected

with military operations" as defined in section 17-20-3(c); and

      (iii) Any person who is employed outside of the United States as defined in section 17-


      (2) The single FPCA card shall permit the person to request an absentee ballot for each

primary and election held within that calendar year for through the next two (2) regularly

scheduled general elections for federal office in which the voter is eligible to vote.

      (3) The FPCA card must be received by the local board of canvassers where the person

last maintains his or her residence for voting purposes within the time frame for applying for

absentee ballots as set forth in this title.

      (4) If the FPCA, when used in accordance with this section, is sent by the voter through

electronic transmission, it must be sent to the state board of elections secretary of state and it

must be received by the state board secretary of state by the deadline for applying for absentee

ballots as set forth in this title. The state board secretary of state shall then forward the FPCA to

the appropriate local authority who shall immediately certify and forward return the FPCA to the

secretary of state with the notation that the corresponding ballots shall be sent by mail and

electronic transmission. The secretary of state shall transmit ballots only to the facsimile number

provided by the Federal Voter Assistance Program. The ballots sent by electronic transmission

may also shall be returned to the state board by electronic transmission. These ballots will be

counted at the state board in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the state


      (5) The voter's signature on the FPCA does not need to be witnessed or notarized, when

the FPCA is submitted as provided in this section.

      (6) If a voter is casting a mail ballot received through the use of the FPCA card as

provided in this section, the voter's signature does not need to be witnessed or notarized on the

certifying envelope used for the return of the voted mail ballot.

     SECTION 4. Chapter 17-20 of the General Laws entitled "Mail Ballots" is hereby

amended by adding thereto the following section:

     17-20-6.2. Designation of single state office to provide information on registration

and absentee ballot procedures under the Help America Vote Act. – The secretary of state is

designated as the single state office responsible for providing information regarding voter

registration procedures and absentee ballot procedures under Section 702 of the Help America

Vote Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-252) and shall be responsible for the coordination of the state of

Rhode Island’s responsibilities under said section.

     SECTION 5. This act shall take effect upon passage.