They have apparently not learned from Arizona’s mistakes, where many voters had to wait up to five hours in line to vote after the number of available polling locations was reduced from 400 in Maricopa County in 2008 to 200 in 2012, and then further slashed to 60 during this March’s primary fiasco.
Director of Elections Robert Rapoza defended the decision by saying that the 2008 presidential primary also implemented a reduction and experienced no real problems. However, he chose not to mention that in 2008 there were 541 total locations available for the general election compared to today’s 419. Thus, this latest two-thirds reduction still results in 33 less pollings stations than in 2008’s primary.
The executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island John Marion had an alarmingly nervous way of expressing his support for this move, saying he was “cautiously optimistic” that the primaries would go smoothly.
Marion said he was mostly concerned that many voters don’t even know these cuts are happening. “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,” he said.
Many are especially concerned with Cumberland, RI, which normally has thirteen polling locations in a general election. Next week it will only have three.
“I think the general public has no idea there’s going to be a lot fewer polling places come Tuesday,” said Joe Fleming, a political analyst for Eyewitness News. “If the turnout is 10% statewide, it’s not going to be too bad. If the turnout gets up to 25%, it’s going to be interesting — you could start to get some lines in some of the areas.”
For context, the 2008 presidential primary had a voter turnout of 33%.
To add to the confusion, the Rhode Island Board of Elections’ executive director, Robert Kando, won’t even be working on primary day, as he is presently serving his second unpaid suspension this year. Marion said it was “disconcerting to know that the executive director — who is charged with making sure the election day runs smoothly — is on an unpaid suspension on primary day.”
Rhode Island residents have been encouraged to confirm their polling places via the Rhode Island Voter Information Center online. You can access this online database here.
Link to original article from US Uncut