Rhode Island presidential primary moving to June 2

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Nearly one week after the R.I. Board of Elections voted to move the presidential primary from April 28 to June 2, Gov. Gina Raimondo said she will grant their request and move the date.

Raimondo tweeted Monday that she would sign an executive order to move the date of the primary, which will take place mostly by mail.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea had initially asked the elections board to keep the primary on April 28, but do it mostly by mail-in ballots, so that there would be fewer poll workers and physical voters interacting at the polls amid the coronavirus outbreak.

But elections board staffers expressed concern that there wouldn’t be enough time to distribute mail ballots and certify the large influx before April 28. The Board of Elections instead voted to delay the primary in order to have more time to prepare to hold it mostly by mail.

In a statement following the news that the primary would move, Gorbea said a mail ballot election will “ensure that all eligible Rhode Islanders can cast a ballot in a safe and secure manner while protecting the integrity of every vote.”

She said all registered voters would receive a mail ballot application with a pre-paid return envelope.

“Any change to the date and format of the primary may prove confusing for voters,” Gorbea said. “Last week, in my testimony to the Board of Elections, I recommended that the Board of Elections and I co-chair a diverse statewide task force that can help broker solutions ensuring we do not unintentionally disenfranchise any portion of our electorate.”

The governor’s order directs Gorbea’s office and the Board of Elections to create a plan to hold the primary on June 2. It says there would have been 182 polling places open on April 28, with a minimum of eight poll workers at each.

It’s not yet clear how many polling places would be open during June mail-ballot primary, but there would still need to be some open for people with disabilities who need assistance voting.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

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