Smiley declared GOP chair, party refutes Harrop's claims
On Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. the Rhode Island Republican
Party announced that Mark Smiley will take the reigns as the new chairman
despite confusion that took place during the Thursday vote.
During the party's chairman election, Mark Smiley prevailed over Dan
Harrop by one vote. Smiley had 94 delegate votes and Harrop had 93, a total of 187 votes casts but only 186
delegates had been checked in to vote. After conducting an investigation on
Friday night and Saturday morning the party determined that the "extra" vote
that had been cast by a legitimate delegate who was in attendance at the
"This whole thing is about one little blue highlighter mark,"
explained Mark Zaccaria, the outgoing GOP Chairman. Zaccaria said the volunteer
checking delegates in simply got distracted and forgot to put a blue checkmark next to the
delegate's name. The volunteer, along with the voting delegate, have both
submitted signed affidavits indicating that the delegate was present and did
The party announced the mistake and the resolution that
Smiley did win the chairman's election on Sunday afternoon.
In a report by GoLocalProv Harrop says he was not informed
by the party's decision until he was contacted by a reporter on the matter. Zaccaria
says that is not the case noting that he personally spoke to Harrop on Sunday
afternoon around 1 p.m., two hours before the press was notified to the
situation. Zaccaria also said that Harrop had been notified by his own
supporters that the vote had been validated in Smiley's favor on Saturday
The RI GOP will meet on April 2 to officially
announce the results of the investigation and declare Smiley the official chairman. On Thursday, the
meeting was continued after the vote was declared invalid.
There is some talk among members of the party that there may
be a legal challenge made as a result of the decision however because the GOP chairman's
position is unpaid the challenge may lack standing.
"We did not violate any laws," said Zaccaria. He explained
that the matter was a result of a "distracted volunteer" and was an "honest
Party members will have a chance to react to the decision at
the April 2 meeting.
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Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.