Forming the RI Republican Presidential Ballot

Rumors of fewer than three Republicans making the Rhode Island Presidential Preference Primary ballot appear to have been exaggerated. Edward Fitzpatrick of the Projo writes…

Republicans Mitt Romney, John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul and Democrat Christopher Dodd have submitted enough signatures to appear on Rhode Island’s March 4 presidential primary ballots, according to local boards of canvassers.
They join Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani, who had already amassed more than the required 1,000 validated signatures, the secretary of state’s office reported yesterday. The final step before appearing on the ballot requires the secretary of state to certify the signatures.
Other candidates might appear on the primary ballot. While the deadline for signatures was 4 p.m. yesterday, local boards have until Jan. 10 to validate signatures, and an unknown number of signatures have been submitted without being validated yet, said Chris Barnett, spokesman for Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
However, no Republican is an absolute lock to make the ballot as of this morning, because in the Rhode Island process, every signature requires two approvals; a “validation” at the local level and a “certification” at the state level. Every Republican still requires additional “certifications” from the Secretary of State’s office to reach the 1000-count level.
Does anyone familiar with the mechanics of electoral politics know if the two-step approval process is used in other states, and if it serves any purpose other than allowing machine politicians two shots at disqualifying their opponents?
Will Ricci has a bit more detail on “validation” versus “certification” at the Ocean State Republican website.

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16 years ago

Good question, Andrew.
Dave Talan reports that Rhode Island now has the second most onerous process for getting a candidate on the Presidential ballot. This is certainly undemocratic, it is probably litigious but most of all, it is puzzling.
The General Assembly (Democrat-controlled) establishes campaign law and election procedures, including ballot access. That same General Assembly was quite anxious to move up the date of Rhode Island’s Presidential primary “for influence, attention and personal face-time by each of the major league presidential candidates”. But doesn’t the absence of some of the candidates on the ballot work in the opposite direction?

Scott Bill Hirst
Scott Bill Hirst
16 years ago

He should be called “Mr.Signature” but the real hero in this GOP Presidential Candidate Access in Rhode Island; is Dave Talan. I even saw him in Hopkinton Tuesday doing this. Dave has been a great coordinator of this effort through the years. I like past years collected signatures for various candidates on the GOP side for President.New Hampshire has a filing fee of $1,000 per candidate.Each state rules are different.
Interestingly Raymond Stebbins filed in Rhode Island as a Democrat for President and in New Hampshire as a Democrat for Vice President. Kenneth Capalbo of Wakefield,South Kingstown is running as a Democrat in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary.He was formerly a South Kingstown Republican.Capalbo did not file in Rhode Island.

16 years ago

I’m not personally aware of anywhere else with such a convoluted and grossly inefficient two-step process as in Rhode Island, though one can always hope that someone is as bad as we are. Most states have real Secretary of State offices which are empowered to handle most of this kind of stuff in house.
As for “allowing machine politicians two shots at disqualifying their opponents?” this isn’t so much the case, as practically speaking, you don’t get an opportunity to challenge what is first turned into the local boards of canvassers, before they submit the certified nomination papers off to the Secretary of State’s office for certification / qualification. As soon as a canvassers finish checking to see if signers on a sheet are listed as current voters in that town, they “certify” the nomination papers, and send them off to the S of S for Round 2.
All the challenges, if there are any, are done through the Secretary of State’s office (Elections Division), up until Jan. 10th. In cases where the numbers are very close to the 1000 mark, they could make a difference.

Chris Barnett
16 years ago

We will not know for sure which presidential candidates made the primary ballot until Jan. 10, but you can follow their progress on the Secretary of State’s website. Candidates must have collected the signatures of at least 1,000 eligible Rhode Island voters in order to run in the state’s March 4 presidential primary. The candidates had until Dec. 26 to submit the signatures to the board of canvassers of the city or town in which voters said they were registered. Municipalities have until Jan. 10 to validate the signatures. Those records then must be certified by the Secretary of State’s office before the candidates are officially on R.I.’s presidential primary ballot. Rhode Islanders can track the progress of the 20 candidates who are vying for a spot on the ballot by visiting The website site lists the number of validated signatures for each candidate as well as the number of signatures that have been certified toward the 1,000-signature threshold. The next milestone in the state’s presidential primary calendar is Feb. 1, when Secretary of State Mollis will hold a public lottery at the State House to determine the order in which the candidates will appear on the Democratic and Republican ballots.

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