Cranston Board of Canvassers Chair to Resign Over Woodmansee Ballot

Rhode Island ACLU supports state Board of Elections decision in case.

Joseph DeLorenzo, chairman of the Cranston Board of Canvassers was set to resign Monday after he says he was given an ultimatum by the state Board of Elections for refusing to provide an absentee ballot to convicted child killer Michael Woodmansee. 

DeLorenzo said he was told he would be face criminal charges if he didn't give Woodmansee a ballot.

The Rhode Island ACLU issued the following statement Monday in support of the response by the state Board of Elections to the Cranston Board of Canvassers’ absentee ballot controversy: 

“Last week’s unlawful decision by the chair of the Cranston Board of Canvassers to deny an absentee ballot application simply because he personally opposed that person’s right to vote was an egregious violation of the democratic process. That he would do so only four years after unsuccessfully trying to bar two other residents at the Eleanor Slater Hospital from voting amounted to a flagrant case of malfeasance. 

“People who are institutionalized for mental illness do not lose the right to vote under the law. Nor do people who have committed heinous crimes but have served their prison time. No election official has the authority to prevent a person from voting simply because he doesn’t believe they deserve to exercise that right. Allowing this undermining of the electoral process to stand unchallenged would have established an unconscionable precedent.             

“We commend the state Board of Elections for its swift action in intervening in this case and for sending the message that vigilante vote suppression will not be tolerated, no matter how disliked a voter might be.”

Board member Robert Muksian already resigned over his refusal to sign the ballot. Two of three board members must approve the ballot.

Cranston Resident October 23, 2012 at 02:05 PM
ACLU is at it again. First they used a troubled little girl as an unsuspecting pawn in their scheme to make money from the prayer banner. Now they are useing a mentally deranged criminal to suck more money from Cranston taxpayers. There is no level that they won't stoop to to promote their communist agenda.
Malcolm Najarian October 23, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Kudos to you Mr DeLorenzo, it's time we take a stand to provide the able-bodied hard working legal American citizens a platform to decide right and wrong irrespective of what foolish lawmakers or associations deem as correct!! There is no gain to anyone to let a person who should have never been released from the prison he resided in!
Bill Santagata October 23, 2012 at 09:30 PM
The ACLU is not to blame here. They are the ultimate champions of small government: it is their philosophy to fight back against any government official who oversteps his lawful authority and attempts to take on powers not granted to him. The Rhode Island Constitution forbids people who are in prison from voting, but grants the right to vote to people who have served their time and are released from prison. Woodmansee **never** should have been released from prison and it is a travesty of justice that he is somehow a free man. He should have been given life in prison without the possibility of parole, and hence lost his right to vote forever. But he has been released, and the law is the law: he has the right to vote. The Cranston Board of Canvassers does not have the authority to pick and choose whom they personally feel like allowing to vote. If you were to hand this authority over to them, today they'd bar Woodmansee from voting. Tomorrow they'd bar ex-drug addicts. Next year they could bar you. As James Madison said, "The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it."
Suzanne Arena October 24, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Mr. Santagata of http://www.humanistsri.com/, the ACLU I have no use for. "Ultimate Champions of small government" - Please! Representing Sex Offenders, inmates that need to have a Transgender change, kids that seemingly are harmed by the word God or people that deem crosses as bad, blah blah blah. ACLU won't represent 20,000+ Diagnosed Dyslexic Children in RI that are not being given an education for their specific needs - okay, so they said they don't have the manpower for a class action suit. Hmnnnn, seems like they don't need a lot considering the press and sandstorm they blow up. I have heard enough of Steve Brown and the whole lot - they represent unfairly. I applaud DeLorenzo!!! Having mental illness and currently being institutionalized equates to irrational thinking. When you are out - then you can vote. This was B.S. and I am a highly rational, ethical, compassionate...but hard @ss and I find any ACLU supporters to be the side that you are not on.
Bill Santagata October 24, 2012 at 10:16 AM
It is the ACLU's philosophy to fight any and all illegal over-reach by government. Whether this over-reach harms murderers, sex offenders, etc. makes no difference: any change in what powers the government is authorized to exercise must be made through the *legislative process*: We cannot have government officials make up their own rules whenever they feel like. The ACLU does not defend them because they sympathize with murderers or sex offenders. Just as they will defend a Nazi's right to march down a Jewish neighborhood, not because they agree with the Nazi's viewpoint, but in an effort to curb unlawful activity by the government against free speech rights, the same applies here. Woodmansee should not have the right to vote because he should have been put behind bars for the rest of his life, but this is unfortunately not what happened. I do not want to give off the impression that I feel any sympathy for him, but what I feel towards him does not change what the law is. The law bars *mentally incompetent* people from voting: this means in essence people who are mentally retarded and cannot determine whom they wish to vote for (in any event, the Board of Canvassers does not have the authority to deem anyone mentally incompetent anyway). I do not know the details of the dyslexic case. It doesn't really seem like something that falls within the ACLU's subject matter: they normally deal with constitutional issues.


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