RI voters take advantage of mail ballots in special election

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FILE – In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo, a county election worker scans mail-in ballots at a tabulating area at the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

RI Special Election: View real-time results here »

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island should be in a “good position” to release most of the results from the state’s special election once polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to elections officials.

Tuesday morning, the R.I. Board of Elections met virtually to discuss any potential issues that might have occurred in the three hours since polling began.

Executive Director Robert Rapoza said when the polls opened at 7 a.m., the BOE had six people standing by in its call center to assist technicians or communities dealing with issues, but said “calls were extremely quiet” and “things were off to a good start.”

Rapoza noted that between the post office, statewide dropboxes and the BOE’s dropbox in Cranston, more than 68,000 mail ballots had been received, making for a nearly 74% return of the ballots mailed out.

As of Tuesday morning, Rapoza said all but 2,500 mail ballots had been counted using high-speed tabulators, adding that very few voters were sent deficiency letters, which gave them seven days to correct issues with their ballot.

More than 9,400 Rhode Islanders took advantage of the early voting period, according to Rapoza, with more than 2,500 emergency ballots cast on Monday alone. He said that tally on Monday was the highest recorded in one day since early voting began on Feb. 10.

Elections officials also reported that all polling locations opened on time Tuesday morning, but St. Francis Church in Coventry was working to fix a heating problem. Temporary space heaters were brought in to keep poll workers and voters warm.

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