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RG 012. Board of Elections

 Record Group
Identifier: RG 012
In 1901, a State Returning Board was established to collect, count, and tabulate votes. The board was also responsible for keeping records of vote outcomes and ensuring that outcomes were published in local newspapers or other publications. The duties and responsibilities would change little over the next century. Before the State Returning Board was formed, the Secretary of State was in charge of moderating the voting process and ensuring the results were given to the general assembly so that election results could be made public. In 1935, per PL 1935, Chapter 2195, the use of voting machines was regulated and a board was formed to oversee the administration and operation of said machines. That same year, in PL 1935, Chapter 2188, the Board of Vote Tabulation was established as an official governmental body under the Department of State. Per the aforementioned legislation, all duties of the former State Returning Board were transferred to the Board of Vote Tabulation, as well as new responsibilities involving the administration of voting machines. A year later, as part of a reorganization of Rhode Island state government in 1936, the Board of Vote Tabulation was dissolved and all powers were transferred to the newly created Division of Elections within the Department of State. With the passing of the Administrative Act of 1939, changes were made to the process of vote tabulation, as handled by the Division of Elections. However, in 1941, a section 22 was added to the Administrative Act that now delegated these duties to a Board of Elections. Current functions of the State Board of Elections include the maintenance of voting machines, providing election day supplies to the municipal canvassing boards, certification of the election, poll worker education, mail ballots counts, recounts and the administration of the provisions of the campaign finance laws. The Division of Elections under the Department of State provides voter education, prepares sample ballots, maintains the central voter registry, prepares mail ballots, and publishes election calendars as well as other functions as stipulated in the statutes. Abbreviated Timeline 1842: Secretary of State, Towns Clerks and Moderators responsible for the voting process 1901: State Returning Board established 1935: Official Board of Vote Tabulation established under Department of State 1936: Division of Elections created within the Department of State 1941: Section 22 added to Administrative Act of 1939, creates a Board of Elections 1979: State Board of Elections repealed and completely rewritten, becomes RIGL 17-7 Extended Timeline 1842: Responsibilities involved in the voting process delegated to Secretary of State, Town Clerks and Moderators, and the Grand Committee -Rhode Island State Constitution, 1842 “…all votes for these officers shall be sealed up by the moderators and town clerks and by the wardens and ward clerks, who shall certify the same, and deliver or send them to the Secretary of State; whose duty it shall be securely to keep and deliver the same to the grand committee…it shall be the duty of the two houses at said session, after their organization, upon request of either house, to join in grand committee, for the purpose of counting and declaring said votes, and of electing other officers…The ballots for senators and representatives in the several towns shall…be counted by the moderator, who shall announce the result, and the clerk shall give certificates to the persons elected…” 1901: State Returning Board established -PL 1901, Chapter 825: An act creating a State Returning-Board and defining its duties. “There shall be a State Returning-Board consisting of five members…the ballots cast for electors of president and vice-president of the United States, representatives in congress, and general officers, and for and against any proposed amendment of the constitution of the state, or any question submitted to the electors of the state, shall be counted and tabulated by said board… said board shall forthwith, after each result has been ascertained, furnish to each candidate elected a certificate of his election…” -All rules and regulations for the conduction of meetings of said board described in aforementioned chapter. Duties include: Immediately inform the governor of results of elections after vote tabulation. Keep records of all votes cast Prepare press releases in a publication in every major city in Rhode Island as to the outcome of the election, including how votes were cast 1935: Board to oversee the purchase of voting machines and vote tabulation formed -PL 1935, Chapter 2195: An act authorizing the use of voting-machines at state, city, and town elections, and regulating the use of the same. “A Board to purchase voting machines, composed of the following members, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, the State Budget Director and Comptroller, and the Chairmen of the Senate and House Finance Committees shall purchase all voting machines…” -A committee for vote tabulation formed “From a list of ten names submitted to the Secretary of State biennially in the election year by the state chairmen of each major party for the state election…five (5) men shall be appointed by the Secretary of State, or the Boards of Canvassers of the cities and towns as the case may be, not more than three of whom shall be of the same political party, to act as a special committee for receiving, reviewing and tabulating for final totals the returns and tabulations from the respective voting machines used at the respective election…” -All rules involved in the purchasing and privacy practices involved in vote tabulation clarified in said chapter. 1935: Official Board of Vote Tabulation established under Department of State PL 1935, Chapter 2188, 2250: An act to reorganize and consolidate into eleven state departments all existing state boards, bureaus, commissions and administrative agencies, defining their powers and duties and providing the transfer of all powers and duties conferred by law upon existing administrative agencies of the state government to said eleven state departments. -Board of Vote Tabulation, the State Library, and Assistant in Charge of Law Revision fall under the Department of State 1935: Board of Vote Tabulation assumed duties of former State Returning-Board -PL 1935, Chapter 2250: An act relating to the civil administration of the state government and amending or repealing certain general and public laws. “Within said department [of state] there shall be a Board of Vote Tabulation to be appointed by the Secretary of State…Said board shall exercise such powers and duties as were vested by law in the State Returning Board. Composition of Board: Five qualified electors, not more than three of whom shall be of the same political party 1936: Division of Elections created within the Department of State -PL 1936, Chapter 2479: An act creating a Division of Elections in the Department of State and defining its duties. “There shall be in the Department of State a Division of Elections which shall constitute and Election Board for the state.” 3 Members: Chief of Division A Republican A Democrat “Said Election Board shall perform the duties of the Board of Vote Tabulation…the Board of Vote Tabulation shall cease to exist.” 1941: Section 22 added to Administrative Act of 1939, creates a Board of Elections -PL 1941, Chapter 1040: An act…providing for the appointment of the members of the Board of Elections and directing said board to make a report to the next session of the General Assembly and making an appropriation. "There shall be, independent of every other department and agency of this state, a Board of Elections, consisting of 4 qualified electors of this state…2 of whom shall be republicans and 2 of whom shall be democrats…Before entering upon his duties each member of said board shall take an oath of office before the Supreme Court in which he shall swear or affirm faithfully and impartially to administer the duties of his office without regard to partisan or political considerations…” -Assumes duties and responsibilities of both the Division of Elections and the Election Board 1962: State Board of Elections has jurisdiction over appeals, State Election Inspectors formed -PL 1962, Chapter 201: An act in amendment of Chapters 17-7, 17-16, 17-19, 17-20, and 17-21 of the General Laws, in Title 17, entitled “Elections,” as amended. -“(d) The state board shall also have jurisdiction over all election matters on appeals from the local board and over such other matters pertinent and necessary to the proper supervision of the election laws.” “The state board shall appoint and issue commissions to a sufficient number of qualified electors of this state to be election inspectors so that one may be assigned to each election polling place…” -Inspectors serve to ensure that proper voting practices, whether they be by voters or officials, are adhered to 1972: Term Increased for members of Board of Elections -PL 1972, Chapter 285: An act relating to the Board of Election. “Members of the Board of Elections heretofore appointed to said office pursuant to the provisions of this section as it exited prior to the effective date of this act shall serve for a term of ten (10) years from and after the date of their original appointment herein.” 1979: State Board of Elections repealed and completely rewritten, becomes RIGL 17-7 -PL 1979, Chapter 312: An act relating to the State Board of Elections -Section 1 repeals Chapter 17-7 of RIGL in its entirety. -Section 2 recreates Chapter 7 to Title 17 “There shall be, independent of every other department and agency of this state, a Board of Elections, consisting of seven (7) qualified electors of this state…” Duties defined: Supervise election laws Custody over voting machines and all dealings involving said machines Prepare and deliver election supplies to each voting district Canvass and tabulate all votes case at each state election Provide a certificate of election to elected candidates Maintain records of votes cast “The state board shall also have all of the powers and duties formerly conferred or imposed by existing law upon the Division of Elections and the Election Board…” (for a complete list of duties, see chapter; for a complete list of current duties, see RIGL 17-7) 1985: Board of Elections in charge of formulating a training program for polling officials -PL 1985, Chapter 92: An act relating to elections “[the board must create a] mandatory orientation of all appointed wardens of polling places. All such programs shall be formulated by the Board of Elections…The board of elections shall also formulate and provide a program together with an information sheet for all other appointed and selected polling officials…” 1986: Board of Elections must provide schools to train election officials, as well as publish informational pamphlets; PL 1985, Chapter 92 repealed -PL 1986, Chapter 523: An act relating to Elections “The availability of said schools for persons interested in serving as election officials shall be publicized and persons interested in such instruction shall make application for attendance at said schools…shall also formulate and provide an informational pamphlet containing detailed instructions regarding the duties of elections officials and the operation of polling places…” 1996: Board of Elections, in cooperation with the National Voters Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993, must aid in the registration of voters -PL 1996, Chapter 298: An act relating to elections. “[Duty (13) of RIGL 17-7] Arrange and make provisions for the registration of voters pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993. The state board shall formulate programs to assist those persons organizations desiring to register voters and shall provide…rules and regulations it shall adopt, voter registration services which may include, training sessions, registration materials, manuals and other services for the purpose of registering to vote eligible Rhode Island citizens.” 2003: Requests for absentee ballots powers transferred from Board of Elections to Secretary of State -PL 2003, Chapter 234: An act relating to elections “If the FPCA (Federal Post Card Application)…is sent by the voter through electronic transmission, it must be sent to the Secretary of State and it must be received by the Secretary of State by the deadline for applying for absentee ballots as set forth in its title…” State Board of Elections, General Laws Pertaining to: RIGL 1909, chapt.19 RIGL 1938, chapt.311 RIGL 1956, 17-7-1 State Board of Elections, Public Laws Pertaining to: PL 1901, chapt.825; PL 1930, chapt.1592; PL 1935, chapt.2188, 2195, 2250; PL 1941, chapt.1040; PL 1943, chapt.1276; PL 1958, chapt.18; PL 1961, chapt.70; PL 1962, chapt.201; PL 1963, chapt.209; PL 1972, chapt.285; PL 1978, chapt.201, 251; PL 1979, chapt.312; PL 1985, chapt.92; PL 1986, chapt.523; PL 1990, chapt.199; PL 1996, chapt.277, 298; PL 2003, chapt.234 Variant Forms of Agency Name: State Returning Board Board of Vote Tabulation Board of Elections State Board of Elections

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

A Guide to Aid the Voter

 Item — Folder A Guide to Aid the Voter 1941 folder 23
Identifier: 1636-264
Scope and Contents

This is a voter's digest of the election laws of the State of Rhode Island, complied to assist every citizen in understanding the political procedure by which he may take part in the orderly selection of Federal, State and Local Governments.

Dates: 1941

Official Count Ballots Cast

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: C#00171-C#00342-2005-20-2011-47
Dates: 1924-1960

State Returning Board and State Board of Election records

Identifier: C#00167-1636-1771

This series documents activites of the State Board of Elections from 1943-1983 relative to conducting elections.

Dates: 1901-1935, 1943-1983