RI Board of Elections hopes to install security cameras at mail ballot drop boxes

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Board of Elections (BOE) discussed installing security cameras for ballot drop boxes ahead of the general election, but the item was moved to next week after local election officials expressed concerns over funding.

In a letter to the BOE, the R.I. League of Cities and Towns said they are in strong opposition to any new unfunded mandates to cities and towns, especially after the pandemic’s financial hit.

“I am for one in favor of it, but I’m concerned obviously with the cities and towns and the burdens placed on them,” BOE member Louis DeSimone Jr. said. “I do think there should be some type of security provided given the fact that we are going to be receiving a lot of ballots in these particular boxes and it could affect the outcome of the election.”

The most timely and favored installer of these security cameras would cost $4,000 per camera, for a total cost of $156,000.

“It seems to me that it ought to be 24 hours a day security in terms of the camera system,” BOE member Richard Pierce said. “I think it’s something we need to find a way to finance to protect the validity of the election.”

The board also unanimously voted on an item requiring the board of canvassers and staff to participate in signature matching training.

Due to the strain of COVID-19 and numerous elections, the board decided to encourage local boards to participate, but did not make it a requirement.

The signature matching training is an online course that costs $50 per person. The BOE is hoping this may be something the Secretary of State can fund.

Ballots are going to begin mailing in early October from the vendor the Secretary of State’s office has a contract with.

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