Most things can be improved. The Office of Secretary of State is no exception. My plans include but are not limited to the following plans or initiatives. Here is my platform of reform initiatives for the Office of Secretary of State.
Support Voter ID Law
The two Democratic candidates for Secretary of State have said they oppose and would work to repeal the Voter ID Law. Unfortunately, there are many who agree with them. Notwithstanding, it is obvious that the two Democratic candidates for Secretary of State are out of step not only with the largely Democratic general assembly, which enacted the law; but also, with the majority of Rhode Islanders, who have expressed their support of the Voter ID Law. I support the Voter ID Law and shall oppose any legislative measure to repeal it or diminish the Voter ID Law.
I support holding a Constitutional Convention. The RI Constitution provides a mechanism for the people to change and amend their constitution. I have faith in the sensibilities, intelligence, and decisiveness of Rhode Islanders to know what is in the best interest of the State in regards to holding a Constitutional Convention and making changes to the RI Constitution. I shall support a Constitutional Convention with the full force and power of the Office.
Upgrade Voter Handbook
I plan to upgrade the Voter Handbook to include pro and con positions on each question
During each election the Secretary of State provides a voter handbook to guide voters during the general election. This handbook includes a description of each question the voters will either reject or approve. The shortcoming is there is no guidance or perspective about the benefits or liabilities of these questions. I shall include a pro and con statements for each question written by someone who strongly supports or strongly opposes the question. I believe this will give voters a better understanding of the benefits or liabilities of each question and lead to a more informed, deliberative and decisive vote.
Restoration of Civics Education Curriculum
Some people believe we need smarter voters, who vote with knowledge of the candidates and their position on the issues and who also understand the importance and value of their vote when exercising their political citizenship in this fashion. Many citizens have given up and no longer vote. I believe we need to vitalize and educate the young people of this state. I believe one substantial remedy is to restore civics education in our elementary and secondary school curriculum. I shall work with members of the general assembly and the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education to restore civics education. I shall also recruit those who support this mission to join in the crusade.
Expansion of Voter Education Initiatives
For the general voting public I shall expand voter education by developing a civics curriculum for adult Rhode Islanders within the Office of Secretary of State. I shall recruit retired history and social studies teachers as faculty for this endeavor. I shall work with the Commissioner of Education to award, to individuals seeking their high school diploma through the GED program, credit toward their GED.
Voter Information and Participation Initiatives
I shall establish a wide range of initiatives designed to provide more and better voter information in order to increase voter turnout. Using a strong education and training approach, these initiatives shall strive to transform a reactive public into a proactive public. One initiative might be to inform voters and nonvoters about the importance of voting in primary elections. People can achieve the change they desire, if they are educated and encouraged to exercise their political citizenship.
I shall establish an advisory group to the Secretary of State consisting of a broad representation of Rhode Islanders, who have an interest in the workings of the Office of Secretary of State. This group of advisors shall evaluate the various roles and responsibilities of the Office and make suggestions for improving and making the Office more responsive and user friendly.
Lobbyist Oversight Reform
Given the recent concern about lobbyist oversight emerging from the investigations into the 38 Studios debacle, I will conduct a study of the policies and practices relating to lobbyist and shall implement measures to which result in greater oversight of those engaged in lobbying government officials.
Many Rhode Islanders who have a genuine interest in government are eager to exercise their political citizenship in a meaningful way; but they lack a real opportunity to do so. I shall provide that opportunity by establishing a volunteer corps comprised of citizens from various backgrounds to provide service to our state through the Office of Secretary of State. These volunteers may engage in diverse endeavors all intended to serve our state and to stimulate, educate and activate the Rhode Island public.
Fair Ballot Configuration
The current method of ballot configuration is fair but not fair enough, because it establishes placement advantage or disadvantage to candidates by affiliation and perpetuates that advantage or disadvantage throughout the ballot. I plan to determine candidate placement for each office (race) by random selection. This procedure will not replicate the same ballot placement order for each race and thereby it discontinues to perpetuate the same ballot placement advantage or disadvantage throughout the ballot.
Accessibility to Public Records
All public records must be easily accessible to the general public in printed or digital format. The Secretary of State’s Office must function like a public library and office personnel must function like librarians. Staff will help the public obtain information and/or train them in how to access information themselves by using Office public computers or their own personal computers.
Business Task Force/Advisory Group
I believe government needs to rethink and reshape its attitude toward business. I acknowledge and credit previous Secretaries of State for the great improvements made in this regard. We now need to make small adjustments and fine tune what has been done. I shall establish a Business Task Force comprised of business people, academics, and other interested individuals to guide this process of improving services provided by the Office of Secretary of State.
Our voting machines should provide a receipt, create a paper trail, and have a specific individual machine ID. With each election there are a certain number of challenges to the election outcome thus requiring the recounting of votes. Sometimes these recounts result in court actions by candidates, who claim that the voting machines are not accurate or consistent in their recount outcomes. These machines have been in use a long time now and may need to be replaced. If that is to be done, I suggest that we need voting machines which provide a paper trail, provide a receipt to each individual voter as to how he/she has voted and that each machine has its own signature and ID.
Ralph Mollis expressed disappointment that he had not been able to accomplish one of his cherished goals as Secretary of State, that being to establish an archives museum. The State, especially the Office of Secretary of State, is a treasure-trove of relics and historical artifacts and documents. A good idea is a good idea. It is my desire as well to establish an Archives Museum to house and display these important historical items. These items are and should be a great source of pride for Rhode Islanders and an Archives Museum will help Rhode Islanders learn the rich history and the important role played by our state and its citizens.
Majority Required to be Elected
I propose that a majority of votes should be required to be elected. No election should be won by a pluraliy of votes.
Following the election of 2010, there was considerable discussion about the slim margin of votes which determined the outcome for governor. Many questioned the legitimacy of a win by plurality versus the requirement of a majority of votes to win. Of course this is not a problem when there are just two candidates in the race. But when there are three or more (and there were five gubernatorial candidates in 2010) there may be a potential problem. I support the requirement that a candidate must obtain a majority of votes to be elected. Furthermore, this requirement may require a runoff election to achieve or meet that requirement, which I support as well.
Elimination of Master Line Voting
I have been advocating for removal of the master lever and master line voting since 1992.
The effort to remove the master lever has been underway for fifty-one plus years. During the 2014 legislative session the RI general assembly passed legislation to remove the master line/master lever voting effective 2015. Congratulations to the general assembly and to all others who have advocated for its removal.