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Presidential primary problems leave some RI voters frustrated

When RI voters grew frustrated, they contacted NBC 10 to get answers from the Board of Elections (WJAR)

Voters were left confused and frustrated while voting during the Rhode Island presidential primary on Tuesday. A number of viewers contacted NBC 10 to report long lines, broken machines and issues they considered were unfair at a number of polling places.

One viewer contacted NBC 10 when she was told she could not vote. The viewer who was registered as a Democrat wanted to vote Republican but said she was given two choices, to vote as Democrat and disaffiliate later, or not vote during the presidential primary.

Bob Rapoza, acting director of the Rhode Island Board of Elections said officials want every Rhode Islander to vote. Voters who are unaffiliated can vote for either Democrat or Republican, but have to choose one, but those who were already registered with one party and wanted to disaffiliate had to first cast their ballot under that same registered and then disaffiliate.

But that's not what happened when some voters at the Smith Street precinct in Providence were allowed to disaffiliate and still vote, she told NBC 10.


William West, acting chairman at the Rhode Island Board of Elections, said there was a lot of confusion about disaffiliating and provisional ballots at the polls throughout the day Tuesday. The confusion was at which point a person can disaffiliate. A voter had to first cast their ballot, then disaffiliate.


Another voter grew frustrated after she attempted to cast her ballot but encountered a machine that was "full." The Warwick resident had to insert her ballot into an "emergency compartment" and was told it would be scanned later. When she asked a poll worker if she could stay and watch someone scan her ballot to be sure her vote was counted, she was told no. That's when she called NBC 10.

The Board of Elections told NBC 10 that once the machine was working she did have the right to stick around and watch as her ballot was scanned.

The board avoided a major problem just in time when it sent 100 ballots on the last ferry out to Block Island. When the ferry arrived there were only seven ballots left, so the polling place never officially ran out, officials told NBC 10.


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