PROVIDENCE — Democratic state Representative Gregg M. Amore swept to victory in Rhode Island’s secretary of state race on Tuesday, defeating Republican Pat V. Cortellessa, according to an Associated Press projection.
With 95 percent of polling places reporting, Amore had 59.5 percent, while Cortellessa had 40.3 percent, according to the state Board of Elections. Those results did not include mail ballots.
Amore, an East Providence Democrat, will succeed Nellie M. Gorbea, a term-limited Democrat who finished third in September’s Democratic primary for governor.
Amore has served in the state House of Representatives since 2013. He works as the East Providence School District athletic administrator, and he taught US history, civics and government courses at East Providence High School for 27 years.
As he celebrated his victory at The Graduate Providence Hotel, Amore said, “I feel great. We worked really hard. This is my passion – civic education. It’s a role that’s really important, and only getting more important with the restriction of voting rights nationwide.”
Amore said election officials need to get information out to election deniers. “We can’t dismiss people out of hand,” he said. Instead, officials need to “push back specifically” on any charge of election fraud and hold elected officials who push false claims accountable, he said. “It’s a public information campaign,” he said.
When he takes office, Amore said he wants to make sure that Rhode Island has “a robust civics education program” through outreach to schools and universities, and he wants to make sure the state keeps improving its voting system by keeping up with technology.
Gorbea congratulated Amore, saying, “At a time when our country is under attack from enemies foreign and domestic, I know that Secretary-elect Amore will be a fierce defender of our democracy.”
Gorbea said she wishes Amore “great success during the next four years as he works to further improve access to voting and expands the teaching of civics, continues streamlining services to make doing business in our state easier, and finds a permanent home for our State Archives to promote Rhode Island’s rich and diverse history.”
In a Democratic primary in September, Amore beat Stephanie E. Beaute, 64.3 percent to 35.7 percent. Cortellessa did not face a primary opponent.
Amore spent $476,756 on the race and had $90,831 in cash on hand seven days before the election, while Cortellessa spent less than $3,000 on the race, according to the Board of Elections.
Cortellessa, who lives in Cranston, works in security for a hospitality group, and he is the former owner of a real estate company.
In 2020, Cortellessa ran for the state Senate District 27 seat, receiving 39.7 percent of the vote in a loss to Senator Hanna M. Gallo, a Cranston Democrat, who received 54.7 percent. And in 2018, he ran for secretary of state, receiving 32.5 percent of the vote in a loss to Gorbea, who received 67.4 percent.
When he announced his campaign in September 2021, Amore said he would support a federal voting rights proposal made by Senator Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat, including a federal voter ID provision.
“I think the Democratic Party has shifted away from ‘Never voter ID’ to ‘Fair voter ID’ — to making sure it’s accessible, to making sure there are no restrictions, making sure people know where they have to go, when the have to vote,” Amore said at the time.
Amore noted Rhode Island has a voter ID law that allows people to submit a provisional ballot if, for example, they show up without the required ID. He said he would like to expand the types of ID allowed to include utility bills. And he said he has not seen any evidence that Rhode Island’s voter ID law “is restrictive to any group.”
On his campaign website, Amore called for changes in the state’s election system, including:
- Creating a permanent mail ballot list so people can choose to participate in all future elections by receiving a mail ballot without having to apply each year.
- Simplify the disaffiliation process so that voters do not unknowingly become members of a political party solely by the act of voting in a party primary.
- Allow same-day voter registration so that people can choose to participate in an election right up until Election Day.
- Expand the public financing of elections so “the ability to serve your community is not related to personal wealth of the candidate or that candidate’s personal network.”
Globe reporter Alexa Gagosz contributed to this report.