Some RI, Mass. storefronts board up ahead of the election; Fall River increases ballot safety

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FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Additional safety measures have been put in place in Rhode Island and Massachusetts ahead of Election Day.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has placed 1,000 members of the National Guard on standby. Law enforcement officials say there is no indication of a threat but security plans are in place.

In an email to 12 News, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s press secretary Audrey Lucas said “as always, the National Guard and State Police stand at-the-ready to keep Rhode Islanders safe.”

“The Board of Elections has been preparing for months to ensure that today goes smoothly. We anticipate a peaceful evening,” Lucas wrote.

Some businesses in Boston boarded up their storefronts in preparation for potential violent protests over the results.

A few stores in Providence were also seen boarding up their storefronts Monday.

In an email, a representative from Santander Bank told 12 News “out of an abundance of caution,” it would be closing its branches at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, and employees have secured windows at select locations in major city centers.

The statement added, “the safety of our clients and employees is our top priority.”

Aside from additional safety, Massachusetts election officials are predicting a record voter turnout this election after nearly half of all registered voters have already cast their ballot.

By Monday, 2.3 million Bay Staters voted early. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin anticipates at least a million more will cast their ballots in person Tuesday.

Big turnouts are expected in cities like Boston, Taunton, and Fall River, where officials have processed mail ballots for roughly ten percent of its registered voters.

This year, a change in rules allowed local election officials to begin processing ballots as early as Oct. 25. While all in public view, clerks receive the ballots, mark voters off lists, then remove ballots from their envelopes and run each through a counting machine.

“We have to slowly check them in and then feed them into the machine, one by one, one precinct, one team at a time,” Ryan Lyons, IT administrator for the Fall River Board of Elections said. “It’s a public process. Anyone is welcome to join us during the day so far no one has been interested. But [know] your vote will be counted. It’s safe and secure, just have faith in our democracy.”

Additionally, the Justice Department will monitor compliance with the federal voting rights laws in several cities across 18 states on Election Day.

Boston, Malden, Springfield, Quincy, and Lowell, in Massachusetts, are on the list. There are no cities listed for Rhode Island or Connecticut.

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