Balloting Snafus Mar Rhode Island Pension Reform Vote

by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

Thousands of ballots were mailed out so state workers and retirees could vote on the proposed pension settlement.

But there are problems…some employees never got ballots from the direct mail company.

“Either some of the others did not update their file, with their direct employer or school district for instance, or the school district didn't forward that information to the Retirement Board. But we're catching them,” said Bob Walsh, President of the National Education Association, Rhode Island Chapter.

Teachers union President Bob Walsh says people should call their union or the state…if they did not get a ballot.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, “Even here at Mount Saint Mary's Cemetery in Pawtucket, one of the residents received a ballot to vote on the pension reform settlement. That's right, a pensioner who's been dead for five years, had a ballot sent to her home.

“Well in honor of Saint Joseph's Day I am going to throw out an old Italian phrase, 'It's a frittata!'” Q: Meaning what? “Meaning it's a big mixed bag. It's chaos,” said State Rep. Anthony Giarrusso, (R) East Greenwich-West Greenwich.

A state rep who opposes the pension settlement is not impressed by the balloting snafus so far.

And thinks it's unfair that ballots which are never returned are counted as “yes” votes:

“That's probably how Saddam Hussein used to win by 100 percent…. It's not democratic,” said Rep. Giarrusso.

But union leaders argue that was part of the negotiated settlement that Governor Chafee and Treasurer Raimondo approved.

Reporter Q: There's a fairness question there?

“Yeah, there's great confusion. First of all the general public doesn't have anything to do with this process. This is a process for the plaintiffs who brought forward the lawsuit.”

Workers and retirees who are voting “no,” must get their ballots in by April 3rd.