Re: Patrick Lynch on Voter Fraud: Not To Worry, Statute of Limitations Is Only a Year

Monique mentioned earlier today that former Rhode Island General Patrick Lynch had tweeted that…

Rhode Island legal trivia: There is a one year Statute of Limitation for most voter fraud and election offenses. webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE
Technically, his statement is correct. However, a chapter of the law (ch. 17-20) separate from the one that former AG Lynch referred to (ch. 17-23) contains its own definitions and penalties for crimes related to mail-in ballots…
17-20-30 Penalty for violations — (a) Any person who knowingly makes or causes to be made any material false statement in connection with his or her application to vote as a mail voter, or who votes or attempts to vote under the provisions of this chapter, by fraudulently signing the name of another upon any envelope provided for in this chapter, or who, not being a qualified voter and having knowledge or being chargeable with knowledge of the fact, attempts to vote under this chapter, or who votes the ballot of another voter, or who deliberately prevents or causes to prevent the mail ballot to be received by the voter or to be returned to the board of elections, or who falsely notarizes or witnesses the voter signature on the ballot application or mail ballot, or who deceives, coerces, or interferes with the voter casting his or her ballot, and any person who does or attempts to do, or aid in doing or attempting to do, a fraudulent act in connection with any vote cast or to be cast under the provisions of this chapter, shall be guilty of a felony.
…and there doesn’t appear to be a chapter-specific statute of limitations in chapter 17-20.
What may be of more immediate interest, however, is section 27 of chapter 17-20, where what is supposed to happen to ballots, requests for ballots, and envelopes containing notarization and witness affirmations of ballots, after an election, is defined…
17-20-27 Sealing of ballots and voting list – The state board shall, at the completion of the count of all votes cast at any election, securely store all ballots cast in the election, and after the certification of the results of the elections, the state board shall place all ballots received from mail voters together with the certified envelopes containing the ballots in a steel box or package…and thereafter no steel box or package shall upon any pretense be reopened by any person, except upon order of the general assembly or a court of competent jurisdiction, but shall be held by the board until the first day of September in the second (2nd) year after the ballots were cast, when they may then be destroyed…
In case you don’t have a calendar handy, this says that materials from the 2010 election can legally be destroyed, beginning this Saturday (i.e, “the first day of September in the second (2nd) year after the ballots were cast”).
I’m not sure how quickly the Rhode Island Board of Elections normally disposes of materials from a previous election cycle, but given the questions about mail-in ballots that have been raised by the Erasmo Ramirez video, shouldn’t the RI BoE, whether on its own or at the request of an investigating authority, take definitive steps to preserve potential evidence which under the law should still exist and that might help build a case against perpetrators of voter fraud, suppression, and/or intimidation?

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Ken Block
Ken Block
9 years ago

The RI BoE has made perfectly clear to me that these ballots and other records from 2010 are off limits to everyone unless you come armed with a court order.
There is no ability for the public to audit these ballots against the electronic machines, and no ability to do any research on things like how the ballots are used with the master lever mechanism.
I am certain the BoE will be destroying those records ASAP, unless barred by doing so by court order.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

Is anyone surprised by Lynch’s ignorance of the law? Isn’t he the classic bad lawyer turned politician?

Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
9 years ago

“I’m not sure how quickly the Rhode Island Board of Elections normally disposes of materials from a previous election cycle”
In speaking to the BOE yesterday, I was informed that they conform to federal law and hold all election materials for 22 months following a general election.
The gentleman from the BOE advised that accordingly, the materials from the 2010 election would qualify for disposal on or about September 2, 2012.
If anyone wants to view those materials, that effectively means that they need to act by this Friday, August 31 or sooner because September 2 falls on a holiday this year.
It is clear from what we’ve seen so far that the 2010 mail-in ballots in possession of the BOE should not be disposed or destroyed.
My suggestion is that the head of the RIGOP, the head of the Moderate Party, candidate Ken Block, candidate John Robitaille and candidate John Loughlin act tomorrow to obtain a court order or do whatever is necessary to prevent the BOE from destroying those mail-in ballots.
(This action would not be necessary if the RI State Police or the FBI are able to confirm that they have acted to preserve these materials.)

Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
9 years ago

“In case you don’t have a calendar handy, this says that materials from the 2010 election can legally be destroyed, beginning this Saturday (i.e, “the first day of September in the second (2nd) year after the ballots were cast”).”
I (and the BOE official I spoke to) stand corrected – they can be destroyed even sooner; more specifically, this Saturday.

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