Rhode Island Governor’s Race: Vote Block

Election time is rapidly approaching, the lines have been drawn, and the issues are on the table.  I’ve taken time to soak them in, and look at the big picture while watching the details unfold on the debates.  After all is said and done, for Rhode Islanders I recommend you vote in Ken Block for governor.

Let’s backtrack a bit, and disclose something.  I have followed Ken since well before he was a candidate.  Just the fact Ken is on the ballot is absolutely amazing.  Ken recently founded the Moderate Party of Rhode Island – an even-keeled party that is business-friendly while being socially responsible.  Watching what he went through to actually take the state to court for what amounted to an unconstitutional process on recognizing parties, I gained a lot of admiration for his (and his supporters’) efforts.  After creating this party, and having it recognized by the state, he announced he was running for governor to fix the broken machine that is Rhode Island’s political leadership.  He has gone through the campaign and debates, and is now heading to the finish line of an exhaustive journey.  During this time, I’ve kept in loose contact, especially during his process to recognize his party.  As I am not from Rhode Island, and rarely will support a candidate or party, I did not make the trip out to any events or rallies.  But, here we are?

Why?

Ken Block is a businessman, and a successful one at that.  He has created jobs, and knows how to work with businesses.  Because of his background, he will have the advantage in working with businesses and convincing him that the state is a friend, and not an enemy.  During his time as a businessperson, he implemented a software program (best way to describe for the non-IT crowd) that automated, and audited the State of Texas welfare program, and save the state millions of dollars from fraud and waste.  While he won’t be able to sell this to his own state for obvious reasons, he has shown he can create and understand processes that clean up government systems.

He’s non-partisan, and this has shown in the debates.  Caprio and Robitaille have focused on national party policies and demonizing the other’s party instead of what will help the state, and how they would do this as governor, in all seriousness.  Chafee hasn’t risen above this much, except to say that he is not in one of the major parties – now – which smells a bit disingenuous.

He’s not part of the problem, and his three main competitors can’t make this claim.  Robitaille, while a relative rookie in the political machine worked for the past governor.  Caprio has spent 20 years in Rhode Island’s political machine, and claims to be a solution, rather than an example of the problems?  Chafee has been in Rhode Island politics for 25 years… enough said.  Block is a newcomer to politics, and is not tainted by the “way things were” mentality.

He has executive leadership experience, which is critical for an executive position.  During the debates, he has been able to remain on-message and focused on the solutions instead of the bickering and gesturing of the other candidates.  While I can’t say I agree with him on 100% of his issues, I can agree 100% with his attitude and thought process in how to solve the massive problems Rhode Island faces.

If I were in the Rhode Island voting booth, I would vote for Kenneth Block (M) for governor.  You, as a smart and logical person should too.

The MPRI is on the verge of making a difference in Rhode Island politics.

MPRI
You may have noticed from prior visits to my blog that I have been following this movement closely, not because I’m a resident of Rhode Island (I am not), and not because I 100% support the MPRI platform, but because I support issue-based voting, and not two-party choices. 
The MPRI is well on its way to being recognized as a legitimate 3rd party option in RI.  Their moderate and responsible stance will stand to attract unenrolled independents as well as disenchanted members of both of the two large parties in the state. 
Though I have not personally met Ken Block and crew (my fault for not being available for the events they invite me to), I can tell he is a driven person looking for a realistic option for not just himself, but his state. 
Here is an excerpt from the last communication he has sent out:
Employees of the 39 local Boards of Canvassers across the state of Rhode Island have now collectively certified more than 23,700 signatures – more than enough to qualify the Moderate Party of Rhode Island as a recognized political party in Rhode Island for the 2010 elections.  (Several boards are still working to finish their signature certifications – our final count will be in excess of 25,000 signatures).
 
Each local board of canvassers is meeting soon or has already met to certify the counts of their employees.  Once certified, the local boards will bring our 3,103 signature sheets to the Rhode Island Board of Elections, where employees of the Board will tally the number of valid signatures on each sheet.
 
Once the Board of Elections confirms that at least 23,589 valid signatures are in hand – well…we still don’t know what happens next.  Possibly the Board of Elections will meet and the commissioners will certify the counts of the Board of Election’s employees.  At this time, then in theory, the Moderate Party should have its formal recognition.

Again, congrats to Ken and crew for their amazing work for the people of the Ocean State!

Another victory for the people of Rhode Island!

mp_headerlogo2The below attached bulletins were forwarded to me from Ken Block, of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island.  These are great results for the populace of Rhode Island as people can now have more choices other than just red or blue (not that they are always poor ones).  Though I am not a resident of the state, I do support the values set for on the website of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island.  Ken has done a great job fighting the good fight over in the Ocean State to get the judicial and legislative bodies to reduce the most restrictive political entrance requirements in the country to something more reasonable.  As you can see below, the judicial found the original start date of collecting signatures unconstitutional, and allowed for earlier collection of signatures.  Additionally, the legislature codified the judge’s decision, but also reduced the signature requirement to something more manageable. 

While this may not yield an immediate change, I truly believe that by adding this party – that represents the middle of the political spectrum – to the mix, the people will receive messages from hopeful politicians that are focused, and goal-driven.  Good job once again Ken and crew.  You’ve earned a hearty congratulations thus far for all of your hard work.

RI Attorney General Patrick Lynch just issued a press release indicating that his office will not pursue an appeal of U.S. District Judge William Smith’s decision in Block v Mollis.
 
This lawsuit asked the U.S. District Court to evaluate whether or not Rhode Island’s ballot access laws were constitutional.  Two aspects of Rhode Island’s laws were brought into question: a 5% threshold requirement for signatures to qualify a new party for the ballot (which for 2010 comes to 23,588 signatures) and the timeframe in which those signatures were allowed to be collected (the start date prior to the lawsuit was January 1, 2010).
 
Judge Smith found that the 5% threshold was constitutional, while describing it as onerous.  Rhode Island’s 23,588 threshold requirement ranks our state 12th highest among all states for the total number of signatures required to gain access to the ballot for a new political party.
 
Judge Smith found that the January 1 start date was unconstitutional.
 
I am very pleased that the three defendants in this case (the Secretary of State’s office, the Attorney General’s office and the Board of Elections) have decided to not appeal Judge Smith’s decision.  Rhode Island’s ballot access laws were unreasonably and unnecessarily stringent.  As things stand now, the 23,588 signatures required for access to the ballot remain a huge barrier to overcome.  At a rate of 20 signatures an hour, and the need to collect as many as 30,000 signatures to end up with 23,588 certified signatures, over 1,500 hours will be spent in the collection of signatures to qualify the Moderate Party of Rhode Island for the 2010 ballot.
 
Our bills to modify the ballot access portion of RI General Law are still alive at the legislature.  We’ll have to see if they move during the final frenzy of lawmaking happening as we speak.
 
The MPRI currently has signature sheets in the hands of more than 70 volunteers.  These volunteers will be collecting signatures at public events around the state all summer.  Look for us at the air show this weekend in Quonset Point, as well as at the Bristol 4th of July parade, the Ancients and Horribles parade in Glocester and Water Fire on the 4th of July.  We need as many signature collectors at these events as we can muster.  Please contact Margaret Paynich to get involved with our unprecedented interaction with Rhode Island voters this summer.
 
Our best count right now (which I am pretty sure is undercounted) has our signature total at well over 2,000 signatures.  State Senators, State Representatives, mayors and prominent labor leaders have signed our petition.
 
If you are unwilling to collect signatures but would like to ensure that you are able to sign our petition, please contact Margaret above to coordinate.
 
Look for the Moderate Party on ABC6 this weekend with John DeLuca and Buddy Cianci, as well as on Operation Clean Government’s State of the State program on public access.
This evening, the Rhode Island Senate passed bill S0203, originally submitted in February of this year.
 
S0203 codifies U.S. District Judge Smith’s decision striking down the start date aspect of Rhode Island’s ballot access laws.
 
S0203 also lowers the number of signatures to qualify for recognition as a formal party in Rhode Island to 10,000, down from 23,588.
 
Barrington Senator David Bates and North Providence Senator Ed O’Neill sponsored this legislation.
 
A companion bill (H5426) remains in the House Judiciary Committee.
 
If H5426 is going to move, Friday will be the day. 

Rhode Island ballot access law declared unconstitutional

mp_headerlogo2As a non-partisan, I’ve been following Ken Block in his struggle against the bi-party (and often one-party) system in Rhode Island.  His fight has brought around a nice result. 

Learn more about his work at www.moderate-ri.org.  Congrats Ken and crew!

Quote:

The U.S. District Court in Rhode Island just issued a judgement in the case of Block v. Mollis over the State of Rhode Island’s ballot access laws.
 
In a 27 page judgement, Judge Smith struck down the Jan. 1 start date piece of Rhode Island’s ballot access laws.  Judge Smith declined to strike down the State’s 5% threshold for signatures, determining that this requirement is not sufficiently harmful to the Moderate Party.
 
In Judge Smith’s words: “the American song is one best sung by a plurality of voices [cited by Judge Smith from a previous opinion].   Without justification, a January start date unduly silences would-be singers in Rhode Island at a critical stage of the democratic process.”
The Moderate Party will be at the Board Elections first thing Monday morning to request the commencement of the signature petition process.
 
A last word from Judge Smith’s opinion: “Finally, there is no doubt the citizens of Rhode Island will benefit from such an injunction, for it furthers meaningful participation and debate in the electoral process, and potentially helps avoid the serious dangers of the frozen political status quo”.

Rhode Island Moderate Party One Step Closer To Fair Game

24800702Though I am not a Rhode Island resident, nor do I belong to this party, I thought I would publicize the fight that Ken Block of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island has been fighting just to gain recognition and ballot access.  He has been working very hard in a state that seems to want to push down ideas, and needs to be commended for the work he has already done.  Here is the most recent update to his labor:

 

 

 

Senators Bates, O’Neill file ballot access bill

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Senators David Bates and Ed O’Neill recently filed RI Senate bill 2009 S 0203 regarding ballot access reforms to RI General Law 17-1-2.

 

Text of the bill can be viewed here:

 

http://www.rilin.state.ri.us//BillText09/SenateText09/S0203.pdf

 

Rhode Island‘s current ballot access laws prohibit a new political party from collecting signatures to gain official state recognition in an off-election year, keeping that party from fund raising until the year of the election while existing parties can raise money during the off-election year.

 

These same laws also require a new political party to collect signatures equal to 5% of voter turnout for the previous presidential or gubernatorial election.  This threshold comes to 23,500 signatures based on turnout for the 2008 elections.

 

S 0203 seeks to remove start date restrictions on the signature collection process and lower the threshold percentage to 1%.

 

31 of 39 states that have signature collection laws for ballot access for new parties have no restrictions on start dates for those signature collections.

 

Using data from the 2006 elections, Rhode Island’s signature petition burden relative to the population of the state is 1.75% (18,500 / 1,057,000).  The average signature burden relative to overall population (again using 2006 data) across all states that have laws allowing petitioning for ballot access is 0.54%.

 

Rhode Island‘s signature petition burden is more than 300% greater than the national average.

 

To put this in perspective, with a population of 5.6 million people, Wisconsin requires 10,000 signatures.  Louisiana, with 4.2 million residents, requires 1,000 signatures.  Maryland, with 5.6 million residents, requires 10,000 signatures.

 

Full data on start dates and signature thresholds for all states is available by request.

 

Rep. Driver has filed companion legislation in the RI House.  Bill numbers are pending.

 

For more information about the Moderate Party of Rhode Island, please visit our web site at: www.moderate-ri.org.

This is a step toward getting more parties on the ballot in not only Rhode Island, but other difficult to crack states.  But what does this mean for YOU?  I’ve seen statistics that say Democrats, and Republicans make up about 2/3 of the voting public, and if you’re one of the 2/3 of Americans in these parties, this actually helps you, the voter as well.  If you are one of the 1/3 of the population not in the big two parties, this also helps in the same way.

 

Let me explain:  Simply, by letting more parties onto the ballot, you get more candidates.  This makes all candidates focus on issues, and the solutions that they bring to the table, as well as their track record.  You as a voter — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Constitutional, or other — are greatly benefitted both by the candidates having to give you more information, as well as they know that while in office, they need to stay on focus, and achieve the promises they offered when asking for your vote.  Looks like a win all around, no matter what party (or not) you belong to.

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