92K R.I. voters have cast early ballots; polls open 8 a.m. Tuesday

MORE THAN 92,000 Rhode Island voters had already cast ballots by noon on Monday, accounting for 11.3% of eligible voters. Polls open tomorrow at 8 a.m. for the general election. / PBN FILE PHOTO

PROVIDENCE – With Election Day looming on Tuesday, more than 92,000 Rhode Island residents have already voted for who they want in office. 

As of 12 p.m. on Monday the count was 92,019, accounting for 11.3% of eligible voters. That includes 63,146 people who took advantage of early voting that began on Oct. 19 and ends today. So far, the R.I. Board of Elections has also received 28,873 mail-in ballots. 

Warwick has seen the most early voters in the Ocean State, with 4,679 voting in person and 2,775 who have voted by mail. 

With polls set open officially tomorrow at 8 a.m., the candidates were out across the state on Monday making one last pitch to the voters. 

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Democratic Gov. Daniel J. McKee, who’s facing a spirited challenge from Republican Ashley Kalus, is stumping today at Danny’s Place in Woonsocket, Leo’s Market in Newport, followed by a rally with Mayor Joe Polisena in Johnston. 

The gubernatorial race has been hotly contested. Kalus has been trying to frame McKee as incompetent, accusing him of doing little to help curb rising energy costs while promising if she would work to create 10,000 additional housing units in her first year in office, a number McKee has said is impossible to achieve. 

During his campaign McKee has touted his experience fighting to minimize rate hikes. Kalus’ idea, to use emergency powers to “roll back” the recently approved winter electric rates, suggesting in the debates that she did not understand how the process worked, he said. 

McKee has also been trying to frame Kalus as an out-of-towner whose decision to run for office was little more than “retaliation.” Kalus moved to Rhode Island from Illinois last year, announcing her candidacy on the heels of a canceled contract between the state and her COVID-19 testing company. 

Kalus trailed McKee by 10 percentage points, 46% to 36%, in a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll released Oct. 11.

If elected, McKee would help his party maintain its control over the top statewide offices. Democrats hold a large majority in the legislature and the state’s congressional delegation are all Democrats. 

Kalus told WPRI-CBS TV 12 she would be hitting the campaign trail Monday as well. She spent Sunday shaking hands and chatting at the men’s club game dinner at Saint Rocco’s Church in Johnston. 

With the retirement of longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin, the state’s 2nd Congressional District is open for the first time in 30 years. Langevin wants Democratic Treasurer Seth Magaziner to take his place, but national Republicans are eyeing the seat as a possible pickup opportunity. Republican candidate Allan Fung, a former Cranston mayor, is well-liked in the district. 

Fung says he wants to help bring back that “brand of moderate Republican leadership” that is missing in New England’s congressional delegation. There is just one Republican in the region’s delegation — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. 

Magaziner, who will be with today at the rally in Johnstown, has said voting for Fung will empower House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and far-right Republicans to adopt extremist policies because Fung won’t stand up to them. 

A Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll released Oct. 11 showed Fung leading Magaziner by 8 percentage points, 45% to 37%, based on 422 likely voters surveyed.

Other races on the ballot include Republican Aaron Guckian and independent Ross. K. McCurdy challenging Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos; Republican Allen Waters is challenging Democrat David Cicilline for the state’s 1st Congressional District seat; Democrat James Diossa and Republican James Lathrop are seeking the office of general treasurer; Democrat Gregg Amore and Republican Pat Cortellessa are vying for secretary of state; and Republican Charles Calenda is challenging Peter Neronha for attorney general. 

Rhode Island’s ballot includes three bond questions to authorize spending $100 million on the University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay campus, $250 million on Rhode Island school buildings and $50 million on environmental and recreational initiatives. Rhode Island voters typically approve bond measures. 

(Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.)

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