NORTH SMITHFIELD – Voters in North Smithfield have taken advantage of options this year allowing them to avoid potential long lines at polling places on primary day, with nearly 700 casting ballots via early voting and mail options.
According to Town Clerk Lillian Silva Scott, voters cast 525 mail ballots in the town administrator race, and another 157 showed up at Town Hall in the days leading up to the primary scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8.
How those votes divide up remains to be seen, and it’s unclear if results will follow the usual schedule.
Scott noted that early votes will be accepted at Town Hall until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, even as regular polling locations are open, and counting does not begin until the deadline has past.
The new early voting option – offered in light of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 – began in the lower level of the former Kendall Dean School at 83 Greene St. on Wednesday, Aug. 19. While officials won’t be accepting ballots during Monday’s Labor Day holiday, voters were invited to show up at the Town Hall building until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4, or skip the lines on primary day by ringing the buzzer at the municipal offices between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Mail ballots, meanwhile, are counted by the state Board of Elections and while officials have said that they hope to have election results that night, they’ve also noted that this year’s surge in mail ballots could cause delays.
On Tuesday, three polling places will accept ballots from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.: North Smithfield Elementary School, Scouter’s Hall and North Smithfield Fire & Rescue.
There are three candidates in the non-partisan race: Town Councilors Paul Zwolenski and Douglas Osier, and School Committee member Paul Jones.
Two will move on to the General Election scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3, when town voters will also weigh in on the race for Town Council.
NRI NOW hosted a forum on Wednesday, Aug. 19, presenting questions to the three candidates from readers. Video from the complete event is embedded below.