PROVIDENCE, RI — The COVID-19 pandemic will be with us through the 2020 election season, so a July 25 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy allows candidates to collect signatures on their nomination papers electronically.
Nomination papers are the forms candidates use to obtain “valid signatures” – those of registered voters who are eligible to vote for the office the candidate is seeking, according to the RI Secretary of State’s office. In order to be on the ballot, candidates must obtain a specified number of valid signatures, which you can check at the local Board of Canvassers.
The ruling follows an American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island lawsuit filed by cooperating attorney Armando Batastini in federal court challenging Rhode Island’s ballot qualification process as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Noting that the current process “requires in-person solicitation and receipt of signatures, an in-person witness, and use of a common petition form for each twenty (20) signatures,” the lawsuit argues that the process “needlessly exposes candidates, their supporters, and the general public to risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic with no justifiable countervailing government interest.”
In Warwick, offices require the the following numbers of signatures for a candidate to qualify:
The only candidates who do NOT need nomination papers are endorsed candidates for party offices (i.e. district, city, town or ward committees).