Providence, RI - On October 26th, the Providence Journal reported that Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has been delaying the release of RI voter database information. In an apparently unilateral move, the Secretary of State’s office has decided to depart from the long standing practice of including voters’ full dates of birth in the voter information files. The Secretary instead proposes supplying only voters’ birth years.
A decade old Providence Journal investigation revealed full dates of birth assisted in finding nearly 5,000 people still registered to vote even though they had died. The Providence Journal has also filed an Access to Public Record Act (APRA) request to release the voter database in its standard format including full dates of birth.
“APRA requests should be handled expeditiously. The request for additional time should be exercised only in discrete and pressing instances, and not as a matter of course. We applaud the Providence Journal in their quest for transparency and we are eager to find out what the APRA request reveals,” said Minority Leader Blake Filippi.
House Minority Whip Michael Chippendale added: “Full dates of birth are an important piece of information for the public to be able to access and judge how well Rhode Island protected against voter fraud in our most recent election.”
The House Minority Caucus’ position is that; while the secretary’s office views complying with the Access to Public Records Act as a “burden”, this information is already stored in a database and could be provided with little to no effort. Representative Price, who represents District 39, believes the tactic may “…indicate that there is a deeper motive beyond that which has been stated.”
“Rhode Island has made leaps and bounds pertaining to government transparency, which is what the public wants and deserves. This move by the Secretary of State seems to take us several steps backwards and should be rejected on its face” concluded House Minority Whip Michael Chippendale.
The House Minority caucus will be monitoring the progress of the Providence Journal APRA request and will stand ready to legislatively challenge this policy if needed.