One of our guests on this morning’s taping of Newsmakers was Carlos Tobon, who is challenging the outcome of the disputed House District 58 Democratic primary he lost to longtime Rep. William San Bento. The main issue at this point is whether the Board of Elections is doing its job well.
It would be particularly disturbing if it turns out the members are not, in fact, doing a credible job administering elections – because, unlike most public board members in Rhode Island, they’re getting paid to do so.
Under state law, each of the Board of Elections’ seven members gets paid $7,000 annually for their service, which comes out to $49,000 annually for the whole board. The only other panels whose members still get paid are those on the Personnel Appeal Board ($7,200 a year) and the Labor Relations Board (set by Department of Administration Director Richard Licht). The General Assembly rejected Governor Chafee’s proposal last spring to no longer pay them.
Chafee has appointed one board member: former Secretary of State Susan Farmer, whose term expires in 2020. Five were appointed by Governor Carcieri: Chairman Frank Rego (expires 2015), Vice-Chairman Richard Pierce (2021), Richard DuBois (2018), Martin Joyce Jr. (2017) and William West (2013).
The seventh member is Florence G. Gormley, according to the board’s website, though the secretary of state’s office lists her as a Florence G. Johnson who was appointed by Governor Sundlun and says her term expired in 2005.
State law says the board members should be appointed based on “their knowledge of and/or experience in the working of the election laws of the state” and “diverse points of view.”
Update: Robert Kando, executive director of the Board of Elections, reports the former Florence G. Johnson married a Mr. Gormley and is now Florence G. Gormley. Mazel tov!