Board Of Canvassers, Rep. Jon Brien Spar Over Write-In Instructions

Canvassers: Asking write-in voters to print Brien's first name won't work.


Jon Brien's write-in campaign for Dist. 50 asks voters to print his first name on the ballot Nov. 6, but the Board of Canvassers has stated voters will need to write in his full name for it to count.

"You've got to have the last name," for your candidate when you're casting a write-in ballot, said Henri Cyr, Board of Canvassers election clerk.

Brien's billboard sign, mounted on a trailer, was parked next to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church on Park Ave. Thursday afternoon. The sign shows how voters who want to cast their ballot for Jon Brien can do so, but instead of instructing them to use his full name, the sign tells voters to write in "Jon".

"I don't know why he's doing it," Cyr said. He said Brien has been told voters will need to write in his full name for the vote to count for him.

"That's actually not accurate," Brien said.

Shortly after losing the Democratic primary for the Dist. 50 seat by 52 votes to challenger Stephen Casey, Brien announced his write-in candidacy from the lot of Pepin Lumber Sept. 20. At the time, Brien had sample ballots from the last write-in campaign in RI, Doug Gablinske's 2010 run in Bristol. Those samples showed Gablinske's last name written in as a valid vote. 

Brien said when he launched the write-in campaign he filed a time-stamped letter with the Board of Canvassers, "...making them exactly aware of what we were doing." But, he said, when his first ads for the campaign started running, he got a call from the Board of Canvassers telling him his full name was required for a write-in vote.

"The standard is clear in Rhode Island," Brien said, "It comes down to voter intent. It has to be reasonably ascertainable who the vote is for."

If a voter writes in his first name, Brien said, which has an unusual spelling unlikely to be confused with someone else, they're obviously voting for him. Brien said he's checked with the RI Board of Elections, and he's confident write in votes for "Jon" Nov. 6 will hold up as valid.

The last successful write-in campaign in RI was in 1990, according to Ian Donnis's blog, On Politics. Dist. 69 incumbent Mark Dailey failed to get enough votes to get on the ballot, and wound up running a write-in campaign against two other write-in candidates. Dailey won, but Brien's write-in effort faces an additional challenge: Casey is on the ballot.

Casey is on the ballot despite a challenge Brien made claiming his candidacy is invalid under the Hatch Act, which limits political activities of federal employees on and off duty. A ruling Tuesday from the US Office of Special Counsel states Casey's candidacy is valid.

Brien said it's good the Office of Special Counsel made the ruling, eliminating the possibility of a special election, "Which was certainly one of my concerns," he said. 

"I'm glad that the issue's been resolved and now lets look at the issues and the real differences between the candidates." Brien said.

DR November 05, 2012 at 01:01 PM
We must show the Mayor, City Council and Governor that the Taxpayers in Woonsocket Mean Business. Support the 3 Reps Lisa Baldeli-Hunt, Bob Phillips and Jon Brien(write-in candidate) that Stood Up for the Taxpayers and now need your vote.Good Luck Folks.
Brian O'Ryan November 05, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Listen, DR, we understand that it's your dream to see John Brien re-elected. But for God's sake man, lay off the pipe. Not gonna happen because the people have already spoken and will do it again tomorrow. FACT! It's quite obvious that you are a member of the WTC and it's also probably very easy to pinpoint who you are...one of 1-3 or so people I can think of. You're the same person that gets up to the podium at the council meetings and spews your same rhetoric week after week. You're the same person that calls Larry with the same tone every day. Give it up. You are only listening to yourself now. We voted for change because Brien is bad for Woonsocket. Case Closed! Voters will do it again. John boy is up against in insurmountable task and will fail...again. So, go ahead. Reply with your "I LOVE JOHN BRIEN" nonsense...
Mr. November 05, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I didnt realize that Pharmacists at some CVS stores are members of the Teamsters Union. Is that true Mr. Rapko ?
Brian O'Ryan November 09, 2012 at 11:34 PM
So, what ever happened to Mr. DR anyway?!? Maybe his mouth is full of crow?!? Funny how he hasn't weighed in on John-boys defeat...TWICE!!!!!!!!! Hmm? Garrett has been quiet also. We're all waiting for your interesting take on how your buddy failed....
Mr. November 10, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Dennis must be busy at the Pharmacy. And Garrett wasnt just a buddy, he was a PAID consultant according to Brien's camapign finance report. I guess his support is up for sale.


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