PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea is allocating $223,586 to Rhode Island cities and towns for costs associated with the state's March 2 special referenda election. The funds are part of a $632,189 grant Secretary Gorbea secured from the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) in October of 2020, ahead of the general election.
CEIR is a non-profit organization that works with election experts around the country and from both sides of the aisle to build voter trust and confidence, increase voter participation, and improve the efficiency of election administration.
Approximately two-thirds of the initial grant was used to provide voter education, information and communication for the November 2020 general election. After confirming that grant funds could also be used for the March 2 special election, Secretary Gorbea reserved the remainder of the money to help Rhode Island communities offset the cost of the special election.
"Our local boards of canvassers are preparing to run their fourth election within one calendar year, during an ongoing pandemic," said Secretary Gorbea. "They have been the unsung heroes in making sure Rhode Islanders can vote safely and securely, despite incredible challenges. I hope these funds will provide a needed boost to help our local election officials once again deliver Rhode Islanders the election they deserve."
Every community in Rhode Island will receive grant money from Secretary Gorbea. The amount allocated to each community is based on the number of votes cast in the 2020 general election, with a minimum grant amount of $2,000. A complete list of the amount received by each community is at the bottom of this release.
"On behalf of the Rhode Island Town and City Clerk's Association, I would like to thank Secretary of State Gorbea for these CEIR Grant monies," said Wendy Marshall, President of the Town and City Clerk's Association. "The funding will assist each City and Town to offset the costs of the upcoming Special Election on March 2, 2021."
"Municipal election budgets were exhausted by our efforts to safely conduct three successful elections in 2020," said Nick Lima, Registrar and Director of Elections for the City of Cranston. "Conducting the March 2 Special Statewide Referenda Election carries with it significant unbudgeted costs for cities and towns, and we are thankful for Secretary Gorbea's work to secure this CEIR grant funding to help defray those costs. Ensuring our elections are sufficiently funded means that elections officials can conduct them confidently and safely for all of Rhode Island's voters."
The seven referenda questions for the March 2 special election involve authorizing the state to borrow money through bonds and temporary notes to make capital investments in several different areas. As in November's general election, voters may choose to cast their ballot by mail, early in-person up to 20 days before the election, or at the polls on Election Day.
To protect the health and safety of voters, Secretary Gorbea will once again send all active registered voters a mail ballot application. Mail ballot applications will begin arriving in mailboxes this week. All voters will also be mailed a Voter Information Handbook outlining each bond question in detail in early February.
Grant amounts by community
Central Falls: $2,000.00
East Greenwich: $3,673.09
East Providence: $9,835.55
Little Compton: $2,000.00
New Shoreham: $2,000.00
North Kingstown: $7,467.29
North Providence: $7,162.18
North Smithfield: $3,056.12
South Kingstown: $7,084.11
West Greenwich: $2,000.00
West Warwick: $5,943.87