For many, primary vote already underway

Posted 9/2/20

The primary election is Tuesday, but voting is well underway. More than 4,500 Cranston voters applied for primary mail ballots, and another 300 had taken advantage of a new early voting option as of late last week, according to City

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For many, primary vote already underway


The primary election is Tuesday, but voting is well underway.

More than 4,500 Cranston voters applied for primary mail ballots, and another 300 had taken advantage of a new early voting option as of late last week, according to City Registrar Nick Lima.

“We had no idea going into this. We didn’t know if 1,000 people a day would show up or a dozen,” Lima said Friday afternoon in the Canvassing Department’s office at City Hall.

The new early voting option, Lima said, represents a “monumental” change in the traditional emergency ballot process, eliminating an enormous amount of paperwork and process to allow for City Hall to effectively function as a standard polling place.

Voters arrive and show an ID, receive the ballot for their chosen primary, vote in the first-floor hallway and then enter their ballot into a voting machine. Signage outside City Hall directs voters where to go.

The option is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday, as well as 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Labor Day.

Lima said it’s “tough to ballpark” the level of turnout for the primary, although he noted that the number of mail ballot applications represents far more than for any previous September primary or November general election. He did not immediately have a specific figure in terms of the number of voters who disaffiliated in order to vote in another party’s primary, although he said in a typical year hundreds, or even thousands, of voters use that option.

“We know this is a high-turnout primary, it’s an open mayoral seat, first time both parties have had a primary for mayor in decades,” he said.

Those who vote in person on Sept. 8 will find the level of accessibility typically seen during a November election. Thirty polling places will be open at 29 physical locations, and Lima said a full complement of 296 volunteers had been secured to work the polls. Efforts continued to secure backups, he said, to ensure full staffing even with inevitable call-outs.

“If it’s a high-turnout election, we’re prepared for it, because we’ve staffed it and we’ve opened polling locations for it like it’s the November general election,” he said. “So I think we’re probably better prepared than any city or town in the state.”

Crews will set up almost all of the polling places on Friday this week, with another three or four to be set up on Labor Day. Plexiglass screens have also been acquired for tables at polling places to protect poll workers.

“The administration’s been very supportive,” Lima said.

One late polling place change was made, with the Cranston Public Library’s Central Library on Sockanosset Cross Road replacing St. David’s on-the-Hill Episcopal Church. Three other polling places have changed this year, Lima said, and voters in those precincts have been notified of the change via postcards in the mail. Voters can also expect to receive a packet in late September explaining the ballot questions ahead of the November election.

Asked whether Cranstonians should expect a longer wait for election results than is usual, Lima said: “I’d say yes, because of the number of mail ballots, because the Board of Elections has to process them all statewide. Because there’s so many unknowns, there’s a lot of things being done here for the first time, maybe if you don’t have the results election night, but you might get them the next day, you might get them the day after … It could be an extra couple of days.”

Looking ahead to November, Lima said there are “so many moving parts” and a number of challenges ahead. The primary election experience, however, has helped the city prepared.

“For us, this is a sixth month-straight grind. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel … We want to get this done, we want to do it right,” he said.

More information can be found on the Canvassing Department’s page on the city’s website and at the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Center.

Bucci receives endorsements from Fogarty, McFarland

As the primary contest enters its final days, Democratic mayoral candidate Maria Bucci has received the endorsement of two former members of the Cranston City Council.

In a joint statement, former councilwomen Cynthia Fogarty of Ward 2 and Paula McFarland of Ward 3 said they are backing Bucci “because it is time for new leadership and a new perspective for the City of Cranston.”

“Maria is a problem solver and a consensus builder, and we know she will put the residents of Cranston first,” the statement reads. “This is the moment to finally break the glass ceiling at City Hall and elect an incredible woman to lead our city. We know Maria Bucci is just the woman to do it. Maria’s leadership will ensure that Cranston’s future is successful.”

Fogarty served two terms on the council and ran for mayor in 2008. McFarland served five terms on the council, including four years as the body’s vice president.

Political Winds is a semi-regular feature focused on the 2020 election campaign. Candidates or those with political news may contact Daniel Kittredge, editor, at 732-3100, ext. 234, or dan@rhodybeat.com.


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