RI Board of Elections to refeed thousands of early voting ballots in Cranston after equipment error

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — All but one of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns was able to transmit election results Tuesday night, according to state election officials.

In a meeting of the R.I. Board of Elections Wednesday morning, Executive Director Robert Rapoza asked the board for approval to refeed the city of Cranston’s nearly 9,000 emergency ballots cast between Oct. 14 and Nov. 2.

Rapoza said Cranston encountered an equipment problem involving a USB drive and a ballot scanner.

“Cranston had a USB drive in one of their DS200’s that captured all the votes until the drive became full,” Rapoza said. “At that point, the Board of Elections went to Cranston and switched out the USB with a new USB so that the voting could continue.”

Rapoza said while the USB captured all of the votes cast up until the point it became full, that upon totaling the voting equipment, the DS200 did not have the ability to tabulate all of the results on the USB drive.

Before BOE staff left for the evening, the city of Cranston was asked to bring all of its emergency ballots that had been cast in the 20 days preceding Tuesday’s election to the BOE headquarters, where they were secured for the night, according to Rapoza.

“It is important to note that the Board of Elections has security cameras inside and outside the building, and a security guard 24 hours a day on site,” he added.

Wednesday morning, Rapoza asked the board for approval to authorize staff to re-feed all of Cranston’s emergency ballots into a high-speed mail ballot tabulating machine. He said upon completion, the board would release the results on its website.

Rapoza initially asked for the ballots to be re-fed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., but later sought an extension until 4 p.m.

Another board member amended the motion to just have the count be continued until all of the ballots are fed into the machine and tabulated.

The board approved the amended motion, and is set to start the recount process at noon Wednesday.

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