Thursday, March 19, 2020

Rhode Island Moving Toward Presidential Primary Date Change

Another April 28 primary state may be on the move.

The Rhode Island state Board of Elections voted 6-1 on Tuesday, March 17 to recommend to Governor Gina Raimondo (D) delaying the presidential primary in the Ocean state and scheduling it for June 2. The impetus for the change was the threat of further spread of coronavirus, but the Board also argued that the potential delay would allow them more time to better prepare for a possible all-mail ballot, something that Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) argued for in a letter to the Board.

The one dissenting vote on the Board sided with Gorbea on not only to shifting to an all-mail ballot but to continue with the April 28 date. Gorbea cited concerns about the date change's impact on the preparations for the September primary for other offices and the general election.

But for the time being it appears as if Rhode Island will be on the move. Legal counsel for the Board was preparing a draft emergency executive order for the governor to issue to override the state law.

This would be the latest the Rhode Island presidential primary has fallen on the calendar since the early cycles of the post-reform era. The Ocean state primary was on the very same first Tuesday in June date for both the 1976 and 1980 cycles before moving into March for 1984.

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