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Candidates make final plea for votes at Portsmouth poll sites

An unusual campaign season finally comes to an end

Posted 11/3/20

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Candidates make final plea for votes at Portsmouth poll sites

An unusual campaign season finally comes to an end

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — As if a pandemic weren’t enough, Amy Veri also had a bum leg to deal with.

Although she was hobbled several weeks ago after tearing some ligaments, Ms. Veri wasn’t about to stay on the sidelines for Election Day Tuesday.

The Republican candidate from Little Compton, who is challenging two others for the District 71 seat in the R.I. House of Representatives, was outside Melville Elementary School on busy West Main Road in Portsmouth Tuesday morning, holding up her sign and waving to motorists while teetering on a crutch supporting her right side.

She and other candidates out stumping Tuesday seemed relieved this strange election season was finally coming to an close.

“It’s been different,” Ms. Veri said of campaigning during a pandemic. “It requires a lot of creativity, but it’s always fun to get out there and meet the people.”

Like other candidates, she was careful to follow public safety guidelines while knocking on doors. 

“People have been very welcoming, which is nice because I know there are a lot of concerns about Covid.”

She’s glad the campaigning's over — both at the local and national level. “I just hope that whatever the result, it’s very peaceful,” Ms. Veri said.

St. Barnabas Church Parish Hall was one of the busier polling sites in Portsmouth since not one but two precincts are casting ballots there: 2706 and 2707.

Three candidates were holding campaign signs while congregating around the set of steps leading from the parking lot: Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D) and Kenneth Mendonca (R), who are competing for the District 72 House seat; and Town Council Vice President Linda Ujifusa, who’s seeking another term on the council. 

They said voter turnout was strong earlier in the morning — while snow fell around them — but had since tapered off a bit. Yes, they all agreed: It  has been a most unusual election year.

“It’s been challenging,” said Rep. Cortvriend. “I was doing the door-knocking and stepping back, and some people came to the door and some people didn’t — and some people came to the window.”

Added Mr. Mendonca, “It certainly has been a little different, without a doubt, and I think the early voting capability is a game-changer. Because so many people have already voted, if you didn’t get your message out a couple of weeks ago, you’ve lost that opportunity. You had to be ahead of the game. But we’re all working; it’s the same platform for all of us, so we’re all trying our best to get our message out to the voters.”

Ms. Ujifusa had her hands full with three signs — one for her; one for her husband, J. Mark Ryan, who’s also running for a second council term; and one for Rep. Cortvriend.

“It’s been really hard because we like to talk to people face to face, and not being able to do that has been a bummer,” she said, adding she’s glad it’s over.

“We’re very excited and are very hopeful that good things will result.”

Huge turnout

According to the R.I. Secretary of State’s Office, as of late Tuesday afternoon nearly 2,000 Portsmouth voters had cast ballots that day. When you add in the number of mail ballot voters (3,998) and early voters (3,799), that puts the total turnout so far at 9,787, representing a 65 percent turnout.

The total turnout around the state was just over 56 percent (454,159 votes), which includes 140,353 Election Day voters, 164,263 mail ballot voters and 149,546 early voters. With ballots still to be cast and counted, that figure already makes up 97 percent of the 2016 General Election turnout in Rhode Island.

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