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Rhode Island may call in the National Guard to help with mail ballots this year

A mail-in ballot at the Bucks County Board of Elections office in Doylestown, Penn.Matt Slocum/Associated Press

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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I highly recommend “Fear City” on Netflix. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 18,515 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, after adding 223 new cases since Friday. The most recent test-positive rate was 1.4 percent. The state announced two more deaths, bringing the total to 1,004. There were 71 people in the hospital, eight in intensive care, and six were on ventilators.


With Rhode Island likely to see tens of thousands of mail ballot requests before the November election, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is asking for the National Guard to be called in to provide “logistical support” for processing applications.

In a letter sent last week to state Board of Elections Chairwoman Diane Mederos and Rhode Island Town and City Clerks Association President Carol Wordell, Gorbea explained that the National Guard “would help alleviate the additional strain placed on the Board of Elections and the local canvassers resulting from the expected surge in mail ballot applications for the presidential election while protecting the security of the CVRS.”

CVRS stands for the Central Voter Registration System, which is the state’s database for registered voters.

Gorbea also sent a proposal to Governor Gina Raimondo, who ultimately makes the call about deploying the National Guard. A spokeswoman for Raimondo said the governor is still reviewing the request.

National Guard members would be used to process only the applications for mail ballots, not the ballots themselves, and only for the November election.


They would not be involved in making any decisions about questionable applications; instead, they would flag any inconsistencies they spot for local boards of canvassers to review.

Gorbea said it is unlikely the state would be able to hire unemployed residents to do this work - and conduct the necessary background checks on them - in time for the general election, so having the National Guard process the applications is a better fit.

”It’s a very labor-intensive process,” Gorbea said.


Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you’ve got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ My latest: Rhode Island is one of only two states – the other is Alabama – that requires voters to have two witnesses or a notary when signing their mail ballots. That could change temporarily during the pandemic, but advocates say it shows Rhode Island’s voting requirements are more burdensome than the rest of the region.

⚓ Scoop from yesterday: New York officials have once again approached Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green about moving home to oversee public schools in that state.

⚓ Why does Maine hate Rhode Island so much?

⚓ We told you a few weeks ago that Governor Raimondo was planning to ramp up state borrowing this year, and yesterday she rolled out a proposal to increase this year’s housing and infrastructure bond from $87.5 million to $310.5 million to include more funding for affordable housing, a new health lab facility, offshore wind projects, and the Port of Davisville at Quonset. If the General Assembly signs off on the plan, the question would be added to the November ballot.



Race: My colleague Jeneé Osterheldt has a deeply personal piece about racism in her own family as she was growing up.

Scary: A woman who was swimming off the coast in Maine was killed in a shark attack on Monday afternoon.

Cape Cod: This is so cool. An island off the coast of Orleans has opened to the public for the first time in 300 years.

Sports: Baseball is already seeing its first in-season coronavirus outbreak, and Alex Speier writes that the hope is that it will provide a valuable lesson to the entire league.

Politics: Harvard professor Thomas E. Patterson has a thoughtful series of op-eds in the Globe that question whether the Republican Party is destroying itself.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ No community group does a candidate night quite like the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, and tonight’s 7 p.m. virtual meeting will be the first time that state Senator Sam Bell and his Democratic primary challenger, Providence Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan, speak at the same event.

⚓ Governor Raimondo is expected to announce a new workforce training program this afternoon.


⚓ The Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee is meeting at 4 p.m. to discuss the health care and human services components of the 2020-21 state budget.

⚓ Do you ️♥ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him @danmcgowan.