Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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August 5, 1996


In accordance with the provisions of Section 43-1-4 of the General Laws, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 96-S-2904, "An Act Relating to Elections."

This Act pertains to the power of state party committees to nominate candidates in instances in which there is no candidate of that party seeking a particular office. Under current law, as decided by the recent decision of the Rhode Island Supreme Court in Dahl v. Begin, 660 A.2d 730 (1995), state committees have the power to make final nominations for any state or local office for which no primary nomination has been made. In Dahl, the Court found that the Democrat State Committee should have been permitted to nominate candidates for the Jamestown Town Council after no Democratic candidates filed nomination papers before the applicable deadline.

The Act would restrict this power of state committees to fill vacancies only to those instances in which a candidate (or, in the case of more than one, all candidates) has properly filed and qualified for public office and thereafter becomes physically or mentally disabled, removes himself or herself from the jurisdiction of or as a candidate for the office, or dies after the primary. Under these terms, state committees would rarely have the ability to nominate candidates for vacancies; instead, candidacy would be determined in almost all instances upon filing and qualification under initial deadlines.

Whether or not there is merit to this legislation, it would be unwise to impose these new restrictions at this late date. The 1996 primary season is well underway. Deadlines for filing declarations of candidacy and nomination papers already have passed. The enactment of this legislation at this time is almost certain to lead to litigation over the applicability of the Act to election races already in progress. Moreover, this Act may unfairly disadvantage individuals who had relied on the ability of state committees to fill vacancies.

For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond