The Providence Board of Canvassers referred to Providence Police a voter’s complaint that her mail ballot was altered by supporters of Rep. John DeSimone.
Joanne St. Lawrence, a house District 5 voter, filed a complaint with the board on October 24, that said her ballot was changed from voting for Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, who upset DeSimone in the Democratic primary, to DeSimone, who is embarking on a write-in campaign to try to hold onto his legislative seat.
“I’m really concerned about this,” she told RI Future. “My vote is supposed to count.”
The Board of Canvassers considered her complaint in a 5pm meeting today. After a brief executive session, the three member board unanimously voted to refer the matter to the police.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steve Pare said police are prepared to look into the matter.
“We will thoroughly investigate and if a crime is committed, we will bring criminal charges and seek prosecution,” he said. “Voting is an important democratic function and any fraud will be aggressively prosecuted before the court.”
St. Lawrence, who is 55 years old, disabled and does not drive, said three people came to her home on Phoebe Street to collect her mail ballot. She was expecting someone from the campaign of her preferred candidate, Marcia Ranglin-Vassell. Instead, St. Lawrence says she was greeted by DeSimone supporters.
“They asked me if I had filled in for John DeSimone,” St. Lawrence told RI Future for a previous story on her complaint. “I said no. They said, ‘did you vote for Marcia?’ I said yes.”
That’s when one of them asked St. Lawrence for an eraser, she said. When erasing her ballot failed – St. Lawrence filled it out in pen – one of the people, “took it and wrote his name in. They had me sign it and they both signed it,” St. Lawrence said.
She said she knew something wasn’t right, but didn’t know how to stop the people from changing her ballot. “I wasn’t thinking clearly,” St. Lawrence said. “I just woke up.”
The state Board of Elections has also received a copy of St. Lawrence’s complaint but has taken no action on it to date.