scorecardresearch Skip to main content
Rhode Map

Plato, Wu-Tang Clan fall short in Rhode Island elections

About 0.5 percent of Rhode Islanders who voted in the 2020 election wrote in their candidates

The Wu-Tang Clan did not win the 2020 election in Rhode Island, though they did receive several write-in votes.Jonathan Weiner

If you have friends or relatives who would like their own free copy of this daily briefing about Rhode Island, tell them they can sign up here.


Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Edward Fitzpatrick and I was fascinated by “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 56,723 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, after adding 2,628 new cases since Friday. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 9.2 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 23.9 percent. The state announced 14 more deaths, bringing the total to 1,373. There were 365 people in the hospital.


By now, write-in votes for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are so common they are cliché. But who would have predicted that this year Fyodor Dostoevsky, Patrice Bergeron, and Jared Kushner would receive votes to represent Rhode Island in Congress?

I also was surprised to see congressional votes cast for US Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett for the US Senate, given that they already have lifetime appointments in another branch of government.

And admittedly, I never saw the votes coming for the Wu-Tang Clan and Geddy Lee, the lead singer for the rock group Rush who happens to be Canadian.

The Rhode Island Board of Elections on Monday provided an initial batch of write-in votes to the Globe, and while it’s too soon to draw any firm conclusions from the data, it does suggest that Jerry Garcia is alive.

In the majority of states, you have to register to be a write-in candidate, but Rhode Island has no such requirement, said John M. Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island.


Last year, a bill was introduced to eliminate the counting of write-in votes for those who had not filed a “declaration of intent,” but that bill never became law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island opposed the legislation, saying that while write-in votes are usually futile, they represent a valid exercise of the right to vote. “People using this option are often attempting to make a point,” the ACLU said, “and while the time spent tallying them may seem wasteful, it should be considered part of the process of recognizing the role of the franchise.”

This year, one voter made the point that Jack Black should represent Rhode Island in Congress. One conservative voter specified that he wanted former South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy as president and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan as vice president. And one philosophical voter chose Plato for president.

Bernie Sanders picked up plenty of write-in votes for president. Kanye West collected at least eight write-in votes for president in Pawtucket. And Jesus Christ and Tom Brady put points on the board in a variety of races.

Marion noted that write-in votes represent a small fraction of the votes cast amid this year’s enormous turnout — just 0.5 percent of the presidential vote, according to Board of Elections data. Still, he said, “It’s remarkable how willing people are to throw away their votes.”

And while every valid vote will always be counted in Rhode Island, Marion said, “Obviously, Elvis could not assume office, unless he is alive and living in Burrillville.”



⚓ Rhode Island is opening field hospitals in Providence and Cranston and public health officials are pleading with residents to stay home as a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases pushes hospitalizations to near-record levels. I teamed up with Felice J. Freyer to examine why Rhode Island is being hit harder than other New England states on a per capita basis. Read more.

⚓ Some 1,300 travelers received COVID-19 testing upon arrival at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick this weekend, and 11 tested positive, the state Department of Health reported. Read more.

⚓ The Rhode Island Board of Elections on Monday voted unanimously to certify the results of the 2020 federal, state, and General Assembly elections. “This Board and all Rhode Islanders can be confident in the accuracy of these results,” Executive Director Robert Rapoza said. “Everyone should be proud that the basic work of democracy – a transparent, efficient and accurate election – was conducted even amidst an ongoing pandemic.”

Nick Stoico and Travis Anderson report that tens of thousands of people were without power Monday evening as heavy rain and damaging winds swept through Massachusetts and Rhode Island, knocking down trees and power lines and creating dangerous road conditions for commuters. Read more.


Policing: While Rhode Island lawmakers look at changing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, Massachusetts legislative leaders have reached agreement on “landmark” policing legislation that would create a new system for holding officers accountable, including stripping them of legal protections in some cases of misconduct. Read more.


Sports: Never mind the Super Bowl – Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might not make the playoffs. Read more.

Health: Jonathan Saltzman reports that Moderna has asked federal regulators to authorize emergency use of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, after complete results from a late-stage study showed the two-shot regimen was more than 94 percent effective. Read more.

Opinion: The Boston Globe editorial board calls for Congress to pass another economic stimulus package to help people put food on their tables. Read more.


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

⚓ This year’s “Buy Nothing Day” coat exchange could not take place on the State House lawn the day after Thanksgiving because of the pandemic. So now the state Senate and housing advocates are teaming up to collect coats for the homeless. Anyone with clean, new, or gently used coats, hats, gloves, scarves, boots, or blankets can bring them to the State House, using the legislators’ entrance at the upper parking lot on Smith Street between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. any day this week. Read more.

⚓ The Woonsocket City Council will meet at 8 p.m. The agenda includes the election of the council president and vice president, plus the re-appointment of Howard S. Portney as probate judge, Thomas M. Dickinson as municipal court judge, and John J. DeSimone as city solicitor.


⚓ The Newport City Council will meet at 5 p.m. The agenda includes the election of the chairman/mayor and the vice chairman, and the appointment of the city solicitor.

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

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.