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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Breaking news: RIGOP loses bigly in the Supreme Court

Last RIGOP hope to disrupt mail-in voting in Rhode Island dashed
By Will Collette
By Steve BreenSan Diego Union Tribune
This morning, the US Supreme Court, voting 6-3, turned down a Republican petition for an emergency stay to block Rhode Island from ending the requirement to get either two witnesses or a notary to watch you fill-out a mail-in ballot for the 2020 election.

Ironically, this comes just as Donald Trump actually admitted he is withholding vitally needed funding from the US Postal Service to disrupt mail-in voting.

Trump told Fox News this morning:
“[Democrats] need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots… If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
As for the Rhode Island case, the RIGOP hoped to win in front of the Supreme Court because the Court ruled 5-4 in July to uphold Alabama’s restrictions on mail-in voting that are similar to those in Rhode Island.

However, in the Alabama case, the Supremes upheld the restrictions because the state wanted to keep them. In the Rhode Island case, the state wanted to drop the restrictions. So, in a nutshell, the Supremes ruled in favor of states’ rights.

RI Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said mail-in ballots for the September 8 will go in the mail starting today to those who have sent in applications (that includes Cathy and I). She praised the Court’s ruling in a statement:
“Your health should never be the price of admission to our democracy... Making it easier to vote safely from home by removing the burden of obtaining two witnesses or a notary is a common-sense step that will protect Rhode Islanders during this pandemic.”
I’m not sure I am entirely comfortable with winning based on states’ rights, but it does make me feel happier that I live in Rhode Island and not Alabama.

Anyway, this is a big loss for the Rhode Island Republican Party that has staked a lot on following the Trump line on all matters, including the false narrative that mail-in voting is loaded with fraud.

The RIGOP just issued this statement:
We are disappointed in the Court’s 6-3 decision. We fear that this decision will create more, not less confusion this election year. In Alabama, a state law requiring witnesses for mail ballots is constitutional, but in another, Rhode Island, it is unconstitutional. Whether a state election law violates the U.S. Constitution now depends on the whims of your state’s election officials. The authority of state legislators in establishing election laws has been undermined.We also fear that the Court’s decision will encourage Rhode Island officials to repeat the June presidential primary election fiasco in November. Not only will the witness requirement for mail ballots be waived but unsolicited mail ballot applications will be sent out to everyone, including voters who have moved or are dead. The June presidential primary election nearly overwhelmed the system. About 2,825 mail ballots were not counted and 36,281 mail ballots that were sent out have never been unaccounted for. The June election was inconsequential, but a chaotic November election will have serious consequences for public confidence in our election system.
As you can tell from the RIGOP statement, they missed the point of the Court’s ruling, though they were less incoherent than Trump.

Charlestown’s state Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi and Charlestown Indian Affairs Counsel Joe Larisa were part of the team of lawyers pushing this undemocratic (small “d” as well as large “D”) line. As 

I’ve noted elsewhere, Flip is running unopposed so we can’t immediately get rid of him. However, Larisa works at the pleasure of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) controlled Town Council.

Here is a copy of Joe Larisa’s most recent bill to the town that includes only the month of April and claims only six hours of work (making his per hour take $440.00):
This invoice was disclosed to me by the Town of Charlestown in response to my information request under the state Access to Public Reports Act (APRA, the state's equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act). Note that Larisa actually worked only ONE HOUR under his basic contract with Charlestown to keep watch on the Narragansetts. He billed an additional 5 hours (@$130/hour) for additional work to seek a dismissal of tribal leader Bella Noka's lawsuit against the Charlestown Police Department.