Name mix-up at the polls nearly costs Johnston woman her vote

Northwest

JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ When Jessica Ricci went to Johnston Town Hall to cast her ballot earlier this week, she was met with a surprise.

“When they scanned my license it came up that I had already voted,” she recalled. “I knew I obviously hadn’t voted.”

Ricci said the town clerk’s office told her that another Johnston resident, also named Jessica Ricci, voted by mail and that their ballot was instead cast under her name.

She said the mix-up was rectified within 48 hours and she was finally able to vote Thursday morning.

“I didn’t know if it was going to be fixed and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to vote, so I found it very frustrating,” she said.

The state has already surpassed 50% of its total turnout of the last presidential election in 2016, with more than 250,000 Rhode Islanders having already voted either in person or by mail.

Rhode Island voters also broke a record for the most early in-person ballots cast in one day, according to Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who said 12,860 people voted in person Thursday alone.

Gorbea said situations like Ricci’s have occurred before, but not often.

“That has been a problem. When two people have the same name, there’s always a possibility of human error,” she explained.

Gorbea said anyone who experiences any trouble voting can contact their city or town clerk, her office or — for more serious violations — the attorney general’s office.

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