Upgrading Democracy’s Infrastructure


by Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea

Last month, Governor Gina Raimondo signed into law legislation authorizing the Secretary of State to lead efforts to acquire new voting equipment. Our voting equipment is democracy’s infrastructure. Voters, election administrators and candidates alike depend on modern and reliable voting equipment to deliver fair, fast and accurate elections.
Our current voting equipment is nearly twenty years old and quickly becoming obsolete. Furthermore, today’s available technology makes voting more secure and convenient than ever. It also helps municipalities save taxpayer dollars by streamlining processes.
To ensure that Rhode Islanders have the best, most cost effective equipment it was important to involve a diverse group of stakeholders in the process. That’s why I convened a Voting Equipment Task Force which met on four occasions to help inform our procurement process. Many of the task force’s recommendations were included in our Request for Proposals (RFP), which the RI Department of Administration will be releasing soon.
Thanks to the leadership of the General Assembly and the Governor, we now have a unique opportunity to modernize our democratic infrastructure and replace some of the oldest working voting equipment in the country with the latest available technology. I am proud to be leading this effort to upgrade democracy’s infrastructure and, ultimately, get more Rhode Islanders to participate and vote.
Task force members include: Bob Cooper, Executive Secretary, Governor’s Commission on Disabilities; Bob Rapoza, Director of Elections, RI Board of Elections; Brandon Bell, Chairman, RI Republican Party; Channavy Chhay, Executive Director, Center for Southeast Asians; Dale Holberton, Town Clerk, Town of South Kingstown; Drew Milligan, Member, Millennial Professionals of RI; Jane Koster, President, League of Women Voters of RI; Janet Ruggiero, Member, US Elections Assistance Commission Standards Board and Assistant Clerk, North Providence Board of Canvassers; John Marion, Executive Director, Common Cause RI; José Batista, President, RI Latino Civic Fund; Joseph McNamara, Chairman, RI Democratic Party; Kathleen Connell, Executive Director, AARP RI; Kenneth McGill, Registrar, City of Pawtucket; Louise Phaneuf, Town Clerk, Town of Burrillville; Pilar McCloud, Executive Committee Member, NAACP Providence; Renay Brooks Omisore, Commissioner, Providence Board of Canvassers; Richard O’Neill, Clerk, City of Newport Canvassing Authority; Steven Sepe, Registrar, City of Cranston; Travis Escobar, President, Millennial Professionals of RI; and William Gilbert, Chairman, Moderate Party of RI.

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