Officials prepared for primary day in Smithfield

Officials prepared for primary day in Smithfield

SMITHFIELD – Voting on primary day next Tuesday, Sept. 8, will look different than in past years, said Board of Canvassers member Pasquale Matteo, as the town is prepared to keep the public safe using social distancing and cleaning measures.

Each polling booth will be cleaned between voting, he said, and voters will be asked to wear a mask and maintain social distancing of six feet while waiting to vote.

In addition to COVID-19 prevention measures, Matteo said polling locations have changed due to construction at two elementary schools.

The Smithfield Board of Canvassers closed Old County Road and McCabe Elementary Schools for voting this year due to ongoing renovations and expansions. Districts will be combined to use other locations.

Visit to find your polling location.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 8.

• Voting District 1 – Raymond C. LaPerche Elementary School, 11 Limerock Road

• Voting Districts 2 and 3 – the Elks Lodge #2359, 326 Farnum Pike

• Voting District 4 – Gallagher Middle School, 10 Indian Run Trail

• Voting Districts 5 and 6 – Smithfield Senior High School, 90 Pleasant View Ave.

Matteo added that polling locations will be open at McCabe and Old County during the Nov. 3 general election.

Despite distancing and cleaning measures, Matteo said he does not expect increased delays in voting, attributing it to absentee ballots and early voting. He said each location can fit 30 to 40 people in line without an issue.

“For early voting, we’ve probably gotten an average of 15 people per day,” he said.

More than 850 residents applied for a mail-in ballot for the Democratic primary and another 74 more came in for in-person emergency voting as of Aug. 31, said Town Clerk Carol Aquilante.

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The town is seeing greater numbers of residents signing up for mail-in ballots for a primary than ever, Aquilante said. People are concerned for health reasons due to the pandemic and are deciding to drop off ballots at Town Hall over mailing them in.

“The primary will be a test run for the general election,” she said.

Aquilante said she suspects the current distrust in the U.S. Postal Service is why more people are dropping off ballots. Ballots can be dropped off at Town Hall or at any polling location on Sept. 8.

“People aren’t trusting the mail and would rather come in and vote or drop it off here,” she said.

Early voting at Town Hall is available by appointment until next Monday, Sept. 7. Call 401-233-1000.

Early voting will return for the general election, Aquilante said, allowing voters to come vote at Town Hall 20 days prior to the election, running Oct. 14 to Nov. 2.

She anticipates an increase in mail-in ballots in November, and said the state is sending out absentee ballot applications to every voter in Rhode Island this week.

With all the early voting and mail-in ballots, Matteo anticipates results to come in as usual. He said results for the presidential preference primary were in that evening, and he expects no different this time.

Still, Matteo said finding people to man the polling stations is more difficult this year. He said it’s a long shift, paying $160 for supervisors and $185 for moderators and clerks.

The town will need more volunteers for the November election than the primary, he said.