Couple casts votes for 70 years but misses primaries due to moved polling place

Rhode Island aims for smoother voting process

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 182,000 ballots were cast in the Republican and Democratic primaries in Rhode Island Tuesday. However, not everyone who wanted to vote was able to.

The state only opened one third of the normal polling places on Primary Day. That spelled trouble to Providence residents Gloria and John Capuano. The elderly couple has not missed an election in 70 years, but their new polling place Tuesday had moved to the top of a steep hill.

“My husband is 90, and I’m 89, and we really wanted to vote yesterday, but we couldn’t vote,” Gloria told Eyewitness News. “We said, ‘Oh, I guess we can’t vote’, because there was no one there to help us. So we came home.”

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said her office would examine if there were enough polling places open on Tuesday, but noted turnout for the primaries was down.

Good government group Common Cause RI said there were also backup at some polling stations.

“There were a few places that had, by the reports we’ve gotten, lines of an hour and a half, and that’s just not acceptable,” Common Cause executive director John Marion said.

He says he would like to see early voting in the future. That’s a plan Secretary Gorbea supports, and has been working to get legislation passed that would do just that.

Gorbea said long waits at some polling places happened after old voting equipment broke down.

“Luckily by the fall, we will have new voting equipment. So, things like that will get better,” she explained.

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