Rhode Island Secretary of State election, 2014

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Rhode Island Secretary of State Election

Primary Date:
September 9, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

November 4 Election Winner:
Nellie Gorbea Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Ralph Mollis Democratic Party
A Ralph Mollis.jpg

Rhode Island State Executive Elections
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The Rhode Island Secretary of State election took place on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Ralph Mollis (D) was first elected in 2006 and was ineligible to seek re-election in 2014 due to term limits. The race to replace Mollis featured Democratic candidate Nellie Gorbea, Republican candidate John Carlevale and independent candidate Pamela Azar. Nellie Gorbea won in the general election.

Rhode Island is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. Unaffiliated voters may vote in a party's primary, but they will then be considered affiliated with that party. In order to disaffiliate, they must file a "Change of Party Designation" form.[1]


General election

Democratic Party Nellie Gorbea - Former Deputy Secretary of State[2]Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party John Carlevale[3]
Independent Pamela Azar[3]

Lost in primary

Democratic Party Guillaume de Ramel - Newport businessman[4]


Democratic Party Terry Hassett - Providence City Councilor[5]
Democratic Party Ed Pacheco - Former state representative and state Democratic Party chairman[6][7]


General election

Secretary of State of Rhode Island, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngNellie Gorbea 60.5% 186,899
     Republican John Carlevale 39.3% 121,466
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.2% 770
Total Votes 309,135
Election Results via State of Rhode Island.

Primary election

Democratic primary

Rhode Island Secretary of State, Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngNellie Gorbea 51.4% 58,444
Guillaume de Ramel 48.6% 55,237
Total Votes 113,681
Election Results via Rhode Island Board of Elections.

Republican primary

  • Uncontested

Campaign themes

Nellie Gorbea (D) and John Carlevale (R) made public statements about major issues facing Rhode Island voters. The following sections quote these statements verbatim from campaign websites.

John Carlevale

My Platform
Most things can be improved. The Office of Secretary of State is no exception. My plans include but are not limited to the following plans or initiatives. Here is my platform of reform initiatives for the Office of Secretary of State.

Support Voter ID Law
The Democratic Party candidates for Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has said she opposes and would work to repeal the Voter ID Law. Unfortunately, there are some who agree with her. Notwithstanding, it is obvious that the Democratic candidates for Secretary of State is out of step not only with the largely Democratic general assembly, which enacted the law; but also, with the majority of Rhode Islanders, who have expressed their support of the Voter ID Law. I support the Voter ID Law and shall oppose any legislative measure to repeal it or diminish the Voter ID Law.

Constitutional Convention
I support holding a Constitutional Convention. The RI Constitution provides a mechanism for the people to change and amend their constitution. I have faith in the sensibilities, intelligence, and decisiveness of Rhode Islanders to know what is in the best interest of the State in regards to holding a Constitutional Convention and making changes to the RI Constitution. I shall support a Constitutional Convention with the full force and power of the Office.

Upgrade Voter Handbook
I plan to upgrade the Voter Handbook to include pro and con positions on each question During each election the Secretary of State provides a voter handbook to guide voters during the general election. This handbook includes a description of each question the voters will either reject or approve. The shortcoming is there is no guidance or perspective about the benefits or liabilities of these questions. I shall include a pro and con statements for each question written by someone who strongly supports or strongly opposes the question. I believe this will give voters a better understanding of the benefits or liabilities of each question and lead to a more informed, deliberative and decisive vote.

Restoration of Civics Education Curriculum
Some people believe we need smarter voters, who vote with knowledge of the candidates and their position on the issues and who also understand the importance and value of their vote when exercising their political citizenship in this fashion. Many citizens have given up and no longer vote. I believe we need to vitalize and educate the young people of this state. I believe one substantial remedy is to restore civics education in our elementary and secondary school curriculum. I shall work with members of the general assembly and the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education to restore civics education. I shall also recruit those who support this mission to join in the crusade.

Expansion of Voter Education Initiatives
For the general voting public I shall expand voter education by developing a civics curriculum for adult Rhode Islanders within the Office of Secretary of State. I shall recruit retired history and social studies teachers as faculty for this endeavor. I shall work with the Commissioner of Education to award, to individuals seeking their high school diploma through the GED program, credit toward their GED.

Voter Information and Participation Initiatives
I shall establish a wide range of initiatives designed to provide more and better voter information in order to increase voter turnout. Using a strong education and training approach, these initiatives shall strive to transform a reactive public into a proactive public. One initiative might be to inform voters and nonvoters about the importance of voting in primary elections. People can achieve the change they desire, if they are educated and encouraged to exercise their political citizenship.

Advisory Group
I shall establish an advisory group to the Secretary of State consisting of a broad representation of Rhode Islanders, who have an interest in the workings of the Office of Secretary of State. This group of advisors shall evaluate the various roles and responsibilities of the Office and make suggestions for improving and making the Office more responsive and user friendly.

Lobbyist Oversight Reform
Given the recent concern about lobbyist oversight emerging from the investigations into the 38 Studios debacle, I will conduct a study of the policies and practices relating to lobbyist and shall implement measures to which result in greater oversight of those engaged in lobbying government officials.

Volunteer Corps
Many Rhode Islanders who have a genuine interest in government are eager to exercise their political citizenship in a meaningful way; but they lack a real opportunity to do so. I shall provide that opportunity by establishing a volunteer corps comprised of citizens from various backgrounds to provide service to our state through the Office of Secretary of State. These volunteers may engage in diverse endeavors all intended to serve our state and to stimulate, educate and activate the Rhode Island public.

Fair Ballot Configuration/Candidate Placement

The current method of candidate placement on the election ballot is fair but not fair enough, because it establishes placement advantage or disadvantage to candidates by affiliation and perpetuates that advantage or disadvantage throughout the ballot. I plan to determine candidate placement for each office by random selection. This procedure will not replicate the same ballot placement order for each race throughout the ballot. Candidate placement will be determined for each race separately and will be independent of candidate placement in other races. This method discontinues the perpetuation of the same candidate placement advantage or disadvantage throughout the ballot. This method is a more fair approach to candidate placement.

Accessibility to Public Records
All public records must be easily accessible to the general public in printed or digital format. The Secretary of State’s Office must function like a public library and office personnel must function like librarians. Staff will help the public obtain information and/or train them in how to access information themselves by using Office public computers or their own personal computers.

Business Task Force/Advisory Group
I believe government needs to rethink and reshape its attitude toward business. I acknowledge and credit previous Secretaries of State for the great improvements made in this regard. We now need to make small adjustments and fine tune what has been done. I shall establish a Business Task Force comprised of business people, academics, and other interested individuals to guide this process of improving services provided by the Office of Secretary of State.

Voting Machines
Our voting machines should provide a receipt, create a paper trail, and have a specific individual machine ID. With each election there are a certain number of challenges to the election outcome thus requiring the recounting of votes. Sometimes these recounts result in court actions by candidates, who claim that the voting machines are not accurate or consistent in their recount outcomes. These machines have been in use a long time now and may need to be replaced. If that is to be done, I suggest that we need voting machines which provide a paper trail, provide a receipt to each individual voter as to how he/she has voted and that each machine has its own signature and ID.

Archives Museum
Ralph Mollis expressed disappointment that he had not been able to accomplish one of his cherished goals as Secretary of State, that being to establish an archives museum. The State, especially the Office of Secretary of State, is a treasure-trove of relics and historical artifacts and documents. A good idea is a good idea. It is my desire as well to establish an Archives Museum to house and display these important historical items. These items are and should be a great source of pride for Rhode Islanders and an Archives Museum will help Rhode Islanders learn the rich history and the important role played by our state and its citizens.

Majority Required to be Elected

I propose that a majority of votes should be required to be elected. No election should be won by a pluraliy of votes. Following the election of 2010, there was considerable discussion about the slim margin of votes which determined the outcome for governor. Many questioned the legitimacy of a win by plurality versus the requirement of a majority of votes to win. Of course this is not a problem when there are just two candidates in the race. But when there are three or more (and there were five gubernatorial candidates in 2010) there may be a potential problem. I support the requirement that a candidate must obtain a majority of votes to be elected. Furthermore, this requirement may require a runoff election to achieve or meet that requirement, which I support as well.

Elimination of Master Line Voting
I have been advocating for removal of the master lever and master line voting since 1992. The effort to remove the master lever has been underway for fifty-one plus years. During the 2014 legislative session the RI general assembly passed legislation to remove the master line/master lever voting effective 2015. Congratulations to the general assembly and to all others who have advocated for its removal. [8]

—John Carlevale's campaign website, (2014) [9]

Nellie Gorbea

As a former Rhode Island Deputy Secretary of State, Nellie Gorbea is ready to lead on day one. As Secretary of State, Nellie Gorbea will

Ensure fair, fast and accurate elections

Nellie Gorbea believes that democracy works best when people actively participate in voting. She will increase voting levels through public education campaigns, expand access to mail ballots and begin online voter registration to make it easier to vote. She will ensure that all eligible voters can vote.

Provide transparency in government

Nellie Gorbea believes government must be transparent and accountable to the people. She will increase online access to government records, business filings, and records of who is trying to influence government. Her cost effective lobbying reform policies include:

1. LobbyTracker Hotline: As Secretary of State, Nellie will establish a telephone hotline and a website for citizens to report suspected lobbying activity that may not have been disclosed as required by law. By working together, we can bring an end to the back-room influence peddling that has plagued our state for so long. 2. Increase Disclosure Requirements for Executive Branch Lobbying: Currently, Rhode Island law requires that those lobbying the executive branch of government or public corporations must report their activities only twice per year (those lobbying the legislative branch must file monthly reports). As Secretary of State, Nellie will submit legislation to require executive branch lobbyists to report monthly to ensure that all lobbying activity is publicly disclosed. 3. Create a Lobbying Data Dashboard: The public has a right to know which topics or bills lobbyists are working to influence. Nellie will create an easy-to-use Lobbying Data Dashboard on the Secretary of State website so that Rhode Islanders can see which issues or pieces of legislation are being lobbied upon most frequently and by whom, ranked in order of frequency and by issue topic.

Help small businesses thrive

Nellie Gorbea knows how to cut through red tape to help Rhode Island businesses thrive. She will also provide economic information that small business owners can use to grow in Rhode Island. [8]

—Nellie Gorbea's campaign website, (2014) [10]


General election
All candidates

Rhode Island Secretary of State
Poll Nellie Gorbea (D) John Carlevale (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
October 6-9, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Past elections


On November 2, 2010, A. Ralph Mollis won re-election to the office of Rhode Island Secretary of State. He defeated Catherine Terry Taylor (R) in the general election.

Rhode Island Secretary of State, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngA. Ralph Mollis Incumbent 50.6% 166,140
     Republican Catherine Terry Taylor 49.4% 162,283
Total Votes 328,423
Election Results Via: Rhode Island Board of Elections


On November 7, 2006, A. Ralph Mollis won election to the office of Rhode Island Secretary of State. He defeated Sue A. Stenhouse (R) in the general election.

Rhode Island Secretary of State, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngA. Ralph Mollis 53.6% 200,058
     Republican Sue A. Stenhouse 46.4% 173,490
Total Votes 373,548
Election Results Via: Rhode Island Board of Elections

Campaign finance

Comprehensive donor information for this election has been collected by Follow the Money. Based on available campaign finance records, the candidates raised a raised a total of $765,209 during the election. This information was last updated on April 6, 2015.[11]

Campaign Contribution Totals
Candidate Office Result Contributions
Nellie GorbeaDemocratic Party Rhode Island Secretary of State Won $519,560
Guillaume de RamelDemocratic Party Rhode Island Secretary of State Defeated $233,810
John CarlevaleRepublican Party Rhode Island Secretary of State Defeated $11,739
Pamela AzarIndependent Rhode Island Secretary of State Defeated $100
Grand Total Raised $765,209

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
June 25, 2014 Filing deadline
September 9, 2014 Primary election
November 4, 2014 General election
November 12, 2014 Last day for recount requests
January 6, 2015 Inaugurations for executive officials

Recent news

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All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Rhode Island Secretary of State Election News Feed

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See also

External links

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