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Early voting numbers surge in Cranston, across RI

By DANIEL A. KITTREDGE
Posted 10/28/20

By DANIEL KITTREDGE Cranston voters are well on course for a significant, and potentially historic, turnout in the Nov. 3 general election. As of Monday, roughly a quarter of the city's voters - 14,099 - had already cast ballots, according to figures

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POLITICAL NEWS

Home stretch

Early voting numbers surge in Cranston, across RI

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Cranston voters are well on course for a significant, and potentially historic, turnout in the Nov. 3 general election.

As of Monday, roughly a quarter of the city’s voters – 14,099 – had already cast ballots, according to figures from the Secretary of State’s office.

The turnout this far represents approximately 40 percent of the number of ballots cast in the 2016 general election.

The majority of the Cranston ballots cast as of Monday, 8,929, were mail ballots received and scanned by the Board of Elections. Another 5,170 city residents voted early and in-person at City Hall.

Between the start of the early in-person voting period on Oct. 14 and the end-of-day figures from Monday, the city saw average of 574 early voters each day. That peaked on Monday, with 716 early votes.

Statewide, 201,711 people had already voted as of Monday, representing turnout of nearly 25 percent. The figure includes 78,348 ballots cast early at city and town halls and another 123,363 mail ballots scanned by the Board of Elections.

“It’s fantastic. We’ve had a line out the door for the last couple of days,” Nick Lima, the city’s registrar and elections director, said Tuesday morning of the early voting numbers.

Lima said nine veteran poll workers are staffing the city’s early voting setup, which spans the entire first floor of City Hall.

“We’re getting nothing but compliments from voters,” he said.

Lima said he expects the number of early voters – and, as a result, the lines at City Hall – to grow as the week goes on, while the heavy and mail turnout means those voting at regular polling places on Election Day should expect little or no wait. He said a full complement of 330 poll workers is in place, with additional backups, and all 30 of Cranston’s polling places will be open on Nov. 3.

“We’re one of the only communities in the state that has our staffing at that level … We’re not expecting any lines on Election Day,” he said.

Early voting continues through Nov. 2 at City Hall. Daily hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a closing time of 4 p.m. on Nov. 2.

On Election Day, all 30 of the city’s polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For those voting by mail, an official drop box has been set up at City Hall. Mail ballots can also be returned at the Board of Elections headquarters, located at 2000 Plainfield Pike in Cranston. Mail ballots must be dropped off or received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Asked if he foresees turnout hitting record levels in Cranston, Lima said it’s “tough to judge” but that it “wouldn’t surprise me.”

“I think with the amount of interest … there’s certainly every reason possible for people to vote,” he said.

For those who did not register to vote for this year’s election ahead of the deadline, Rhode Island allows same-day registration for the presidential election only. Lima said Cranston voters in need of this option should visit the Board of Canvassers at City Hall between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Additional information is available at vote.sos.ri.gov. When to expect results

As early turnout surges, it appears Rhode Islanders will know the results of the general election sooner than was the case following the Sept. 8 statewide primary.

During a press conference last week, state officials unveiled the initial plan for the release of voting results. Votes cast on Nov. 3 at polling places will be reported once polls close at 8 p.m., followed by early voting tallies from city and town halls at 10 p.m.

On Monday, the Board of Elections voted in favor of a plan to begin releasing mail ballot tallies on a rolling basis starting at 11 p.m. on election night. Previously, mail ballot results have been reported as a single batch.

Those initial mail tallies will not include ballots delivered to drop boxes around the state on Nov. 3, since those votes must first be transported to the Board of Elections headquarters in Cranston. Additional mail ballot reporting will occur Nov. 4 and once all mail vote counting is finalized.

The schedule represents a much more rapid reporting plan than was the case for the statewide primary. On Sept. 8, in-person votes from Election Day were released after the closing of polls. Early vote tallies were released the next day, followed by mail ballot counts on Thursday, Sept. 10.

Brady responds to Mattiello ad

An ad for Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello that appeared in last week’s edition of the Cranston Herald has drawn a response from the Cranston City Council member whose likeness it used.

Republican Ward 4 Councilman Ed Brady said in a statement he is “very disappointed that Nick Mattiello’s campaign team has placed an ad in the Cranston Herald which gives the appearance that I am openly endorsing him in his re-election campaign.”

“I have made no such open endorsement … Common courtesy should have mandated by his campaign team and I should have been asked for the permission to use my quote and photo before it was released in the Cranston Herald,” he added.

Referencing Mattiello and his GOP opponent, Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, Brady said: “As a local businessman, I have not taken a formal position in this political race because I consider both candidates friends respectfully.”

The ad, which appeared on Page 9 of the Herald’s Oct. 22 edition, features a photo of Brady and a quote of his taken from a Cranston West Alumni Association video.

It reads: “Democrats and Republicans tend to disagree, but Speaker Mattiello has been so important for the City of Cranston because he’s always been responsive and I’m very appreciative that he’s always gotten back to me and executed when asked to fix an area, make an improvement or do what’s best for the City of Cranston.”

In his response to the ad, Brady said: “I stand by the statement that was made months ago in a video with the Cranston West Alumni Association and do appreciate that Speaker Matiello has continued to be responsive for Cranston even though we are from opposing parties.”

Brady also offered praise for Fenton-Fung and her husband, Mayor Allan Fung.

“They have always supported me and I have learned so much from their continued community leadership and support over the years,” he said. “Mayor Fung’s fiscal responsibility has allowed our city to not only survive through Covid but progress forward. We are truly lucky to have his leadership. Barbara Ann has definitely become a friend and earned my respect. She is well qualified to be the District 15 state representative.”

Patti Doyle, a spokeswoman for Mattiello, offered the following response by email: “Ed Brady willingly participated in a campaign video and photo shoot this past summer at Cranston West High School. We appreciate his kind words about the Speaker which were used in this ad. Last, we never claimed Ed Brady was endorsing the Speaker.”

Latest endorsements

A number of local candidates have touted new endorsements in the waning days of the 2020 campaign.

Democratic mayoral hopeful Maria Bucci has received the backing of the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council, the organization said in a recent press release.

“Maria comes from a working family and understands the value of hard work with strong community values,” Michael F. Sabitoni, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “She is an avid supporter of the Cranston School Construction bond and will be a Mayor who prioritizes education and the working families of Cranston.”

Republican mayoral candidate Ken Hopkins, meanwhile, recently received the endorsement of the Cranston Regional Crime Watch.

“Councilman Hopkins’s commitment to protect the citizens of Cranston and his support neighborhood organizations led to this endorsement,” Albert Melikian Jr., organizer of the crime watch, said in a statement.

Former state representative Bob Lancia, the Republican candidate for the state’s Second Congressional District this year, recently announced he has received the backing of IBPO Local 301, the city’s police union.

“I am so privileged to have the support of the Cranston Police,” Lancia said in a statement. “Our police departments ensure that we are secure in our homes and businesses as well protecting the larger issues of our freedom under the Constitution.”

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