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Group will identify ways to improve election systems in Rhode Island.
WARWICK, RI – Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea today convened the first of three meetings of her Elections Task Force. The task force, made up of state and local elections officials along with Rhode Island voters, is meeting to improve the administration of elections in Rhode Island.
"I traveled around the state visiting polling locations during each of the 2016 elections. Our state invested heavily in modernizing elections last year. Overall, I witnessed voters excited to be engaged in the democratic process and polling places running smoothly," Secretary Gorbea said. "But there are always areas where we can improve the administration of elections and that is why I have convened this taskforce."
During today's meeting, the task force discussed recent Rhode Island initiatives to reduce bloat in the state's voter rolls and streamline processes leading up to Election Day. Officials discussed Secretary Gorbea's implementation of online voter registration, the state's membership to the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) and the electronic poll book pilot program implemented in September and November 2016.
Secretary Gorbea also invited Sam Derheimer from Pew Charitable Trusts to share national best practices and recommendations for improving elections administration. Pew has done extensive research on elections administration and created the Elections Performance Index, an interactive tool that allows users to easily analyze the voter experience across states, years, and categories of information.
The second meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 8 will focus on Election Day operations and post election processes. The meeting will take place at Francis J. Varieur School in Pawtucket, one of a handful of polling places that experienced long wait times during the November General Election. Secretary Gorbea mentioned that her office invited the 1,200 registered voters who use the Varieur School as their polling location to hear their concerns at the next meeting.
"All of us around the table are committed to ensuring that elections run smoothly and efficiently in Rhode Island," said Board of Elections Vice Chairwoman Diane Mederos. "We also recognize that there is always room for improvement, which is why it is so important to hear from voters and poll workers at these meetings."
During the final meeting on March 28, Secretary Gorbea will present overall lessons learned, best practices, and solutions for improving elections in Rhode Island. These meetings are open to the public, are being announced in accordance with the Open Meetings Law and will allow for public comment.
Members of the Elections Task Force are: Diane Mederos, Vice Chairwoman, Board of Elections; Commissioners William West and Dr. Isadore Ramos, Board of Elections; Louis Cirillo, Bristol Town Clerk; Louise Phaneuf Burrillville Town Clerk; Sonia Grace, Central Falls City Clerk; Town Clerk Cheryl Fernstrom and Deputy Town Clerk Karen Montoya, Jamestown; Kenneth McGill, Pawtucket City Registrar; Renay Brooks Omisore Providence Board of Canvassers; Patty Aylesworth, Director of Elections and Dottie McCarthy, Warwick; Michele Murphy Westerly Board of Canvassers and Cathy Brayman, Westerly Deputy Town Clerk; Sheri Sweitzer and Pilar McCloud, Rhode Island voters.
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