Rhode Island to Only Open 1 in 3 Polling Places for Primary
Plan to vote in Rhode Island’s presidential primary next week? You might have a harder time finding an open polling place.
The Rhode Island Board of Elections announced it would open just 144 of the state’s 419 polling places for the April 26 contest, in order to cut costs. That’s a third of the polling places typically made available for a November general election.
Director of elections Robert Rapoza said the reduction is no cause for alarm, as similar cuts were made for the March 2008 presidential primary, which saw a record turnout of 216,000. Still, 33 more polling places were open then.
“I don’t think enough has been done to make sure voters know that they likely won’t be casting their ballot at the same location as they did in November of 2014,” Common Cause Rhode Island executive director John Marion told WPRI.
The town of Cumberland, for example, which previously had 13 polling places, will only have three next Tuesday.
In the event of high turnout, Rapoza told WPRI that his agency has instructed municipalities to hire more poll workers to ensure lines move quickly. The election board also plans to increase the number of voting booths at polling places—1,564, up from 1,265 for the 2008 primary.