The 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.
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