2014-08-07 / Front Page

Election Legwork Ramps Up

By Barry Bridges

With Rhode Island’s Sept. 9 primary only a month away, state and city officials are busy with administering the myriad details involved in ensuring a smooth election season.

The Newport Canvassing Authority met on Tuesday, Aug. 5, to continue with the groundwork for the primary and November’s general contest. The authority is involved in all aspects of elections, from registration to tallying the count.

Canvassing Clerk Richard O’Neill said that there will be a few changes this year in polling locations. The voting place for Precinct 2102 will now be at the Pell School; residents previously cast their ballots at the Parkholm Senior Center. Affected voters will be notified by postcard.

Notices are also in the mail to about 1,000 Newporters in Precinct 2105 who have been voting at Donovan Manor but will now go to Thompson Middle School in a newly-formed Precinct 2108. The change was made in light of the state’s new guidelines on required room sizes vis-à-vis the number of registrations.

O’Neill was joined by authority member David Roderick and alternate

Donato D’Andrea in holding a lottery to determine the order in which local candidates will appear on November’s ballot.

There are seven candidates vying for four at-large City Council seats, including the current at-large incumbents plus the present Second Ward Councilor Justin McLaughlin. The lottery dictated that the contenders will appear in the following order: John Florez, Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, Naomi Neville, Henry Winthrop, McLaughlin, C. Andrews Lavarre, and Michael Farley.

Marco Camacho is the only councilor running unopposed and will enjoy a solo spot as the First Ward candidate.

In the Second Ward seat being vacated by McLaughlin, there are two hopefuls. Martha Marie Grogan will appear first on the ballot, followed by Zoning Board member Lynn Ceglie, who has also thrown her hat into the ring.

Incumbent Kathryn Leonard drew the top slot for the Third Ward seat, while challenger John Edwards will appear second.

The lottery decided the order of the 12 candidates for the School Committee: Thomas Phelan, Charles Humphrey, Kathy Silvia, Michael Cullen, Robert Leary, David Carlin, Rebecca Bolan, Robert Power, Jo Eva Gaines, Margaret Kirschner, David Hanos, and Sandra Flowers. There are seven school seats to be filled. Charles Shoemaker, the current committee chair, is the only incumbent not running for re-election.

The Canvassing Authority also certified the 14 local initiatives that will be appear on November’s ballot in addition to seven statewide questions.

The candidate names and referendum information were due to the Secretary of State’s office by Wednesday, Aug. 6, to ensure sufficient time for ballot preparation.

Election staff and poll worker training has been scheduled for August.

Meanwhile, for those planning to cast their vote in the Sept. 9 party primaries, the deadline for registration is Sunday, Aug. 10. Rhode Island law requires registration at least 30 days prior to an election.

The cutoff date falls on a weekend, but local officials in many municipalities are making themselves available to accept registrations. O’Neill will be at the Newport police station’s community room from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Aug. 10 to accept last minute forms. According to the Secretary of State’s office, the Sunday schedule will also give those who have moved or changed their names a convenient way to update their voter records as required by state law.

Residents who miss the primary registration deadline have until Oct. 5 to register for the General Election on Nov. 4.

In order to register, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Rhode Island, and at least 18 years old on voting day. There is also a pre-registration effort for 16-yearolds to get them engaged early in the process.

This year’s primary will include contested party races for the U.S. House of Representatives and will narrow the slate for Rhode Island’s governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and general treasurer.

Of particular interest to locals, the September primary will also feature a Democratic challenger in General Assembly District 75, where Lauren Carson is facing incumbent Peter Martin. A third previouslyannounced candidate, Gregory Larson, did not meet the July 11 deadline for filing nomination papers and is not in the running.

O’Neill told Newport This Week that the deadline for filing absentee ballots for the primary is Aug. 19. He said that there is a broader standard this year. A voter previously had to have a very specific reason to file absentee, but the General Assembly has now made it easier to qualify. From Aug. 20 to Sept. 8, emergency ballots can be cast at the canvassing office if circumstances will preclude voting on Election Day.

Another change to keep in mind is that valid photo identification will be required at polling locations this year.

For more information on voter registration, visit the Rhode Island Board of Elections website at elections. state.ri.us/voting/registration. php.

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