Voters Head To The Polls On Rainy RI Primary Day

Sep 12, 2018

In several races, progressive candidates sought to upend establishment-backed Democrats. Rhode Island's 2018 primary was unusual in that it happened on a Wednesday instead of the traditional Tuesday. State officials moved the voting day back to accommodate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. 

The primary, pitting incumbent Governor Gina Raimondo against former Secretary of State Matt Brown and former state Rep. Spencer Dickinson on the Democratic side, and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung versus state Rep. Patricia Morgan and former Alex & Ani executive Giovanni Feroce on the Republican side, opened on a foggy, wet morning.

Just after noon, few people were voting at a polling place on Fruit Hill Avenue. A pollworker reported that approximately 125 people had voted there over the course of the morning.
Credit Elisabeth Harrison

Turnout was expected to be low, and the rainy weather may not have helped. It did not, however, appear to discourage campaign volunteers, who stood outside polling places in raincoats and under umbrellas, holding signs for their preferred candidates.  

"I'm here to support Matt Brown because of all that he's done to support our fight against the power plant," said a Burrillville resident outside a polling station in North Providence. 

She said Gov. Raimondo had been "making bad decisions and hurting our state."

But Providence voter Hilary Levey Friedman said she came out to vote for Raimondo.

“I am definitely team Gina," said Friedman. "Gina Raimondo has done so much for women and families in this state and I want to see that work continue.”

A pollworker stood alone in the rain outside a fire station that doubles as a polling place.
Credit Elisabeth Harrison

At half past noon, 58,295 people had voted, according to a tweet from the state Board of Elections. By contrast, the record turnout for a modern primary was 170,000 in the Democratic primary in 1990.

Providence resident Arlene McGonagle cast her vote at Hope High School.

“I think there are some interesting races going on right now and very important to Rhode Island. So that’s why we’re here," she said.  "And I think we’re living in some pretty unique times and it’s really important that our voice is heard."

Voter Dennis Cohen said he was hoping for a change.

“I went with new people. I thought maybe we should change it up a little bit. Have more ideas,” he said.