BREAKING: Low Voter Turnout and Rain Potentially Redefining Primary Day Results

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

 

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Kate Nagle, News Director

Primary voters are hard to find in many RI communities as of 12:30 PM just 58,295 had voted in both the Republican and Democratic primaries — far behind the pace of the 2014 primaries.

Some locations have seen steady turnout — like Providence’s East Side Nathan Bishop Middle School which opened 20 minutes late.  SEE STORY HERE.

But, just across the East Side in the Mount Hope section, Martin Luther King, Jr. elementary was virtually empty all morning.

Northern RI cities are seeing near record low turnout as of noon. Cumberland, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket are all seeing a low turnout.

The turnout is raising deep concerns in some Democratic primary circles that the energy is with more progressive voters.

In Pawtucket, in 2014 more than 8,200 voted in the GOP and Democratic primaries for Governor. According to Pawtucket officials through 11 am, just 1,681 had voted today.

While the evening vote may increase the pace it is difficult to see turnout come anywhere near 2014 turnout.

One unhappy Legislator.

Democratic first-term State Representative Moira Walsh has swiped hard at Speaker Nick Mattiello for his involvement in the Smith Hill battle. Walsh Tweeted, The @RISpeaker’s entire staff is helping out my opponent; from Skenyon to montanaro to the state house photographer, they’re all here. To be clear, I’m not running against @earnheartforrep , I’m running against mattiello himself #gotv

Continuous Coverage All-Day, All-Evening on GoLocal LIVE

GoLocal will be hosting all-day and evening coverage of the primary day elections from across the state.

In studio in the evening, GoLocal’s team is joined by former Governor Lincoln Chafee, civil rights leader Ray Rickman, Democratic political consultant Rob Horowitz, head of RI’s Latino PAC Joseph Molina Flynn, and RIC Professor Val Endress.

Also joining the coverage will be Political Science Professor Matt Guardino of Providence College, conservative talk show host Michael Graham, and RI State Representative Antonio Giarrusso.

“We have end-to-end coverage of Primary Day and insights from the widest array of experts — including insights from former Governor Lincoln Chafee and former Congressman Bob Weygand,” said GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle.

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Things to Know About Primary Day 2018

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Finding Your Polling Place

There are several ways to find out where to vote. The easiest way is to go to the Secretary of State's website, where voters can put in their address to find out their polling place, as well as view and print a sample ballot.

"We're really encouraging voters to go online ahead of time to see their sample ballot, so they know what to expect," said Joseph Graziano, Communications Coordinator for the Rhode Island Secretary of State's Office.

Voters are allowed to bring materials into the polling place with them and can fill out a sample ballot ahead of time if they choose to.

If internet access is unavailable, voters can also locate their polling place by calling their local Board of Canvassers or the Rhode Island Board of Elections. 
 

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What Do I Do If I'm Told I Cannot Vote?

Issues such as forgetting a proper voter ID or not being found on the polling place's list of voters could cause problems when going to vote.

"As long as you're registered to vote in the state, you still have the right to fill out a ballot," Graziano said. 

To do so, request a provisional ballot at the polling place.

A provisional ballot is filled out the same way as a regular ballot and is put aside to be verified. The board of canvassers will verify the signature and eligibility on the ballot, and the vote will be counted later. 

To be considered valid for voting, photo IDs must meet certain criteria. It must not be expired, though the address listed does not need to be current.

Valid Forms of ID Include (per the Secretary of State's Office):

  • RI driver’s license/permit 
  • U.S. passport 
  • ID card issued by any federally recognized tribal government 
  • ID card issued by an educational institution in the U.S. 
  • U.S. military ID card 
  • ID card issued by the U.S. government or State of Rhode Island (RIPTA bus pass, etc.) 
  • Government-issued medical card 
  • RI Voter ID card 

A Rhode Island Voter ID card can be obtained from the Rhode Island Department of State.

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Election Results

The age of digital media has created a demand for instant access to information, and the election process is no exception.

"You can find out election results online in real time [after the polls are closed at 8 p.m]," said Dottie McCarthy at the Warwick Board of Canvassers. "New voting machines are wifi-connected and constantly send results to the Board of Elections, which are then posted online. You get the results as fast as we do." 

Official election results must be certified by the State Board of Elections, and are made available on the organization's website. The Board of Elections website states that primary night results will be made available starting at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. 

If a candidate contests the results of a close election, he or she has the right to request a recount. The candidate must fill out a request, have it notarized, and deliver it to the Board of Elections headquarters on Branch Avenue in Providence, where the recount will take place. The public is welcome to attend recounts, which are conducted in the headquarters' lower level warehouse.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this section was not clear that the real-time reporting began at 8 PM.
 

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Election Security

The Department of Justice and the FBI said in a press release that they are prepared to handle all complaints of election fraud and violations of voter rights. 

According to the release, Assistant United States Attorney Terrence Donnelly will be in charge of complaints of voter fraud, and the FBI will have extra agents available on election day. Donnelly can be reached by the public at 401-709-5068.

The organizations will work in tandem to ensure all votes are properly submitted and polling place procedure is followed. Changing votes, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters all violate federal election laws. 

Any voter who feels intimated or harassed can file a complaint with the state Board of Elections or contact Donnelly directly. This includes being questioned or challenged at the polling place, as well as being videotaped or photographed. 
 

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How Does Weather Impact Voter Turnout? 

Traditional political wisdom says inclement weather causes a slump in voter turnout.

"Usually, the research we see surrounding this phenomenon [of bad weather] focuses around the general election over the primary. Primary elections are a whole different animal, so it will be interesting to see if that carries over," said Aaron Ley, Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island. "A lot of times we see larger concentrations of Democratic voters in urban areas, which can make it harder to get out in bad weather. These polling places tend to be more crowded because they're in the city. People are going to be less inclined to wait in a long line if it's raining."

The current forecast from The Weather Channel shows a chance of unsettled weather on election day, with the chance of scattered thunderstorms between 35-50 percent throughout the time polls are open. 

The journal Frontiers in Psychology published a study in 2017 that looked at the link between voters turnout and temperature. The study's authors examined voter data from 1960 to 2016, to examine the impacts of both turnout and voter outcome based on temperature.

With each increase of one degree Celcius, voter turnout also increased by 0.14 percent. In addition, the study concluded that temperature-based increases in voters are largely motived by those pushing for political change.
 

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Emergency Ballots

Emergency ballots are available to anyone who requests one, regardless of the nature of the "emergency."

A voter unable to make it to the polling place on election day can apply for an emergency ballot through the day before the election. Emergency ballot requests can be completed at the voter's local city or town hall. Once the application is submitted, the emergency ballot will be distributed and can be filled out the same way as a traditional ballot. 

Once completed, the ballot must be placed in an oath envelope and signed. Two witnesses or a notary must be present at the signing.

Emergency ballots must be submitted to the Board of Elections before 8 p.m. on election night. The completed ballot can be left with the city or town clerk, who will submit it. The ballot can also be hand-delivered or mailed to the Board of Elections by the voter.

More information on emergency ballots is available here.
 

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Youth Voter Turnout

Traditionally, young voters are one of the least likely demographics to vote. 

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, approximately 50 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 29 voted in 2016, despite making up 21 percent of all eligible voters in the United States.

However, younger voter interest has increased in recent years with the rise of Progressive candidates like Bernie Sanders.

"This could be a time when we see an increase in younger voters," URI's Ley said. "This is a midterm election, and we haven't seen this much interest in a while, since 2006. The carryover from Bernie Sanders could have an impact."

Ley added that he has not seen a large amount of interest in the election from his students at the University of Rhode Island.

"There hasn't been a huge outpouring of enthusiasm from my students so far, but that could be impacted by several factors, including that I'm mostly teaching graduate students," Ley said. "You could ask a different professor and get a completely different response."
 

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2018 Primary Race Compared to 2014

"What we're seeing is basically a repeat of the 2014 primary," said Kevin Olasanoye, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. "There was more interest in the governor's race four years ago, and we're looking into the enthusiasm gap. But in terms of numbers of primaries, it's nearly identical."

The 2018 ballot strongly resembles its 2014 counterpart, with Democrat Gina Raimondo and Republican Allan Fung as their parties' endorsed candidates. 

In 2014, now-Governor Raimondo decisively defeated her primary opponents with 42.1 percent of the vote, compared to 29.1 percent earned by her closest opponent, Angel Taveras. 

Fung, meanwhile, won the Republican primary in 2014 with a strong 54.9 percent of the votes. His opponent, Ken Block, had 45.1 percent of the vote. 

The major difference in the 2018 election is the increase of strongly progressive candidates on the Democratic side, both nationally and in Rhode Island. 

"What's new in 2018 is the national wave of progressive candidates," Olasanoye said.

"That could have a major impact." 

Another major difference in the 2018 gubernatorial race compared to 2014 is the presence of an incumbent governor, which lends an advantage to Governor Raimondo.

According to the Center on the American Governor at Rutgers University, incumbent governors are successful when seeking re-election just over 72 percent of the time. 
 

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Watch Secretary of State on GoLocal LIVE

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea will join GoLocalProv News Editor Kate Nagle in the Navigant Credit Union Broadcast Center on Tuesday afternoon.

Tune in at 4 p.m. for everything you need to know ahead of Wednesday's election and last-minute information for voters.  
 

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Watch GoLocal LIVE for Election Night Coverage 

GoLocalProv is your election night headquarters.

Watch GoLocal LIVE all night as the latest results come in and to hear input from Rhode Island's leading political minds.

Reporters will be stationed at campaign headquarters around the state, bringing up-to-the-minute information.
 

 
 

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