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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Deputy Speaker Lima to introduce legislation requiring a special election for the Lieutenant Governor’s office
STATE HOUSE – Calling the insider political jockeying for the office of Lt. Governor not in the best interest of the citizens of Rhode Island’s right to decide who will represent them by voting, Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence) will be introducing legislation requiring a special election to be held for the Office of Lieutenant Governor.
“We must move immediately to take the selection of our next Lieutenant Governor from the backrooms of politics to the voters of Rhode Island. The question is whether we want our next Lieutenant Governor to be decided by who makes the best political deal for themselves or by the vote of our citizens. My legislation will require a special election to be held within 60 days or less after passage for the Office of Lieutenant Governor, thus placing the power to elect our next Lt. Governor where it belongs, in the hands of the voters,” said Deputy Speaker Lima.
“While a special election will bring an added cost to our state coffers, the cost of allowing the selection of Lieutenant Governor to hinge on political brokering will be much higher. Additionally we already have a special election scheduled for March on bonds. Also, COVID-19 should not be seen as a barrier to this legislation since we just went through a General Election will no apparent health ramifications. With the widespread use of mail ballots, that will be available for the special election as well, this will greatly reduce any health concerns,” added Deputy Speaker Lima.
“Our Constitution leaves the question of how to fill a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant Governor out, while it specifically provides how we are to fill the other State General Offices,” Deputy Speaker Lima citing the Rhode Island Constitution (Section 4. Temporary appointment to fill vacancies in office of secretary of state, attorney-general, or general treasurer. -- In case of a vacancy in the office of the secretary of state, attorney-general, or general treasurer from any cause, the general assembly in grand committee shall elect some person to fill the same; provided, that if such vacancy occurs when the general assembly is not in session the governor shall appoint some person to fill such vacancy until a successor elected by the general assembly is qualified to act.)
“This makes it clear both by the Constitution and pertinent Court case law that the General Assembly has the constitutional and statutory authority to enact legislation requiring a special election for the Office of Lieutenant Governor and repealing any law to the contrary. Enacted, the law will take precedent over any other statutory law giving any person or any government body the right to fill a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant. Governor. The House of Representatives and the Senate have a duty to protect the right of our citizens to vote for their next Lieutenant Governor and I hope we will act as one in passing this legislation. I have discussed this legislation with Speaker Shekarchi and he indicated he feels a full vetting of the bill by the House is appropriate,” concluded Deputy Speaker Lima.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request