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ELECTION 2022

After recounts, no changes in three R.I. House races

The R.I. Board of Elections re-feeds ballots in machines, confirming victories for Democrat Megan Cotter, Republican Brian Rea, and Democratic Representative Camille Vella-Wilkinson

Sign at new Rhode Island Board of Elections headquarters in Cranston, Rhode Island.Edward Fitzpatrick

PROVIDENCE — Recounts on Friday confirmed victories in three closely contested races for the state House of Representatives, a spokesman said.

On Friday morning, the Rhode Island Board of Elections granted requests to re-feed ballots into voting machines in those races, and on Friday afternoon, the board announced that the results showed that:

In House District 39, Democrat Megan L. Cotter edged Representative Justin K. Price, a Richmond Republican, by 32 votes.

Cotter had 3,031 votes, while Price had 2,999 votes, and independent candidate Sean Patrick Comella had 670 votes, according to the updated tally from the Board of Elections.

“I am excited,” Cotter said after the recount. “I was happy to let the process play out. It’s always good to see the system work.”

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She said she is eager to get to work representing the district, which includes Exeter, Hopkinton, and Richmond.

“I look forward to being a bridge for the rural community at the State House,” Cotter said. “There have been a lot of divisive voices coming from the rural community, and their needs get overlooked. I‘m excited to be a bridge and to advocate for my community.”

Price had faced pressure to resign after acknowledging he marched to the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and espoused the debunked conspiracy theory that Antifa was to blame for the ensuing riot. In a series of tweets, Price said he “marched to the Capitol” with “peaceful patriots,” but said he didn’t enter the building and claimed Antifa “false flagged” the “Trump rally.”

In House District 53, Republican Brian J. Rea knocked off Representative Bernard A. Hawkins, a Smithfield Democrat, by 58 votes.

Rea had 2,503 votes while Hawkins had 2,445 votes, according to the Board of Elections. This represented just the latest tight race between the two. In the 2020, Hawkins beat Rea by 89 votes, and Rea requested a recount then.

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“I am very happy,” Rea said. “I am ready to go to work and do what the people elected me to do. The big thing for me is our economy here in the state of Rhode Island, and seeing if we can find a way to help businesses and curb high the cost of living.”

With winter coming, senior citizens and other people on fixed incomes have no idea how they are going to afford to heat their homes, Rea said. The state budget should have included more programs to provide them with assistance, he said.

In House District 21, Representative Camille F. Vella-Wilkinson, a Warwick Democrat, held off Republican Marie A. Hopkins, by 38 votes.

Vella-Wilkinson had 2,618 votes, while Hopkins had 2,580 votes, according to the Board of Elections.

Republicans went into the Nov. 8 elections hoping to add to the 15 seats they held in the 113-member General Assembly. But despite hopes of riding a national “red wave” in the midterm elections, the GOP ended up with 14 total Assembly seats, including five in the Senate and nine in the House.

In addition to the three House races, the board performed recounts showing that Scituate School Committee candidate Lori Hart LaFauci lost by three votes, and that Little Compton Town Council candidate Maureen R. Rego lost by five votes.

Cranston School Committee Ward 5 candidate Arthur P. Scavitti Sr. withdrew his recount request after trailing by 50 votes, board spokesman Christopher Hunter said.

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The board rejected a recount request from Warwick City Council Ward 1 candidate Patrick E. Maloney Jr., who trailed by 631 votes. The board staff concluded that is too wide a margin to qualify for a recount according to state law.

On Friday, the board voted to certify the results of the Nov. 8 elections in the 261 local races in which no recounts are taking place. The board plans to certify the results in the recounts on Tuesday.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.