BOE: All 461 RI polling places operational, despite some kinks getting up and running

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island elections officials say their call center has so far reported fewer calls than in previous presidential election years.

As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, the R.I. Board of Elections call center had taken roughly 300 phone calls from canvassers and technicians encountering various problems, according to Executive Director Robert Rapoza.

Most Rhode Island polls have been open since 7 a.m., but Rapoza said it wasn’t a smooth and on-time start everywhere.

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In North Providence, poll workers did not show up for duty Tuesday morning at Birchwood Middle School, according to Rapoza.

“North Providence had to call in their recruits and get the polling place up opened as quickly as possible. It did open at 7:20 this morning,” he said.

Rapoza also said there were four polling locations in Cranston, Warwick and Providence that had the wrong voting machines delivered.

“What’s interesting on that, is that the local boards are required to accompany our moving company when this voting equipment is delivered and they sign off that the equipment is delivered,” Rapoza explained. “So this is an issue that we will be taking up with Cranston, Warwick and Providence in the very near future.”

Rapoza said the machines were swapped out for the correct equipment quickly, and there was “minimal disruption” as voters put their ballots in the emergency compartment.

In Portsmouth, a supply box for the president and vice president was delivered to a different polling place by the Portsmouth Department of Public Works, Rapoza said.

Additionally, he said due to the large volume of emergency voters (149,856 between Oct. 14 and 4 p.m. Monday) poll pads were taking some additional time to sync with the network.

“The poll pads are working in all the polling places,” Rapoza said. “Some of them have not synced to the network, but they are operational. It is not impeding the voting.”

Rapoza noted that every voting volume nationwide is also slowing the poll pad network, because the BOE uses a network from a vendor.

He also said the number of phone calls about the state’s AutoMARK voting machines has been higher than normal, but he attributed that to the machines being purchased and in service for 16 years.

“This is an issue that, going forward, we should look into possibly replacing these AutoMARKS prior to the next statewide election,” Rapoza added.

As of Monday night, the R.I. Board of Elections had scanned 156,228 mail ballots, which Rapoza called a “phenomenal amount.”

The board was in “various stages” of certifying and counting the ballots, but Rapoza said 105,280 of the nearly 157,000 ballots had been processed through tabulation machines.

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