Several Rhode Islanders have come forth to make claims of poll violations ranging from disenfranchisement to electioneering. The allegations are hardly surprising, as nearly every state primary conducted thus far has drawn complaints for lack of fairness or access to ballots. High voter turnout in Rhode Island is likely fueling the complications.
In North Scituate, a voter complained that a poll worker had instructed another voter on how to cast his ballot.
"There was a gentleman in front of me in the line next to me that wanted to disaffiliate with his party," said David Rivard of North Scituate. "The polling rep told him he could do so, but then immediately told him that he should still vote. 'Just vote for the other candidate. Whoever he doesn't want to win,' she said. She then showed him on the actual ballot and pointed who to vote for."
"That's soliciting votes," continued Rivard.
When he confronted another worker at the poll about the violation, his complaint was dismissed. "Let's not make a big deal out of this," said the worker according to Rivard.
After getting the runaround from workers at that polling location, Rivard was eventually able to figure out how to report the violations, and spoke to Gloria Taylor, a member of the Board of Canvassers. She looked into the issue and told him that "They have spoken to the rep and she was receptive to the criticism. But she has been allowed to stay and will be closely monitored," said Taylor, according to Rivard.
Multiple people also complained about the proximity of campaign signs to the enterance of poll locations. According to Rhode Island State Law, signs cannot be fifty (50) feet of the entrance or entrances to the building in which voting is conducted at any primary or election.
Other complaints from Rhode Islanders included a lack of authentication from poll workers. One Providence woman claimed that she was given a Democrat ballot despite being registered as a Republican. "They didn't ask me. They just put my name sticker on a Democrat ballot, and I made her switch it while giving me dirty looks."
Other voters complained about the lack of information on polling locations. Less than 40% of the state's available polling locations were opened for the primary, and many voters were confused by where to go. Even if they did find their proper location, long lines and parking became problematic due to the reported 400% increase in voter turnout.
"People are really upset with the changes in polling places that may affect turnout," said a concerned North Kingstown resident. " The problem is that some of the chosen locations have limited to no parking."
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