Dee From the Desk: Turning out the Vote

 With just a day until the General Election the fate of the state and the city of Providence all hinges on voter turn out.

This is a particular struggle this year as there is no presidential race leading the ticket so it will be up to the candidates to turn out voters. In a similar midterm election in 2010 only 48.93% of voters turned out.

There are a couple factors that may drive voters to turn out. First off in the city of Providence, Buddy Cianci’s presence on the ballot may turn people out to vote for or against him. The likely high turn out in Providence will most likely benefit the Democratic ticket because while some may be crossing party lines in the mayor’s race they will probably stick to the party in the rest of the races. This is partially because Cianci enjoys a lot of union support, many of whom typically vote Democrat. Also, Providence has the largest number of Democratic voters in the state; the problem is these voters don’t always turn out, especially when there is no presidential candidate on the ballot. The question is, is Cianci enough to turnout voters?

In the 2010 Mayoral Race, Providence only saw a 36% turn out. The 36% turnout in Providence was still 35,000 voters which is more voters turning out than any other city in the state.

In midterm elections areas such as Cranston and Warwick have generally seen more than half of the population turn out. In the governors race this is enough to even out the landscape. It is expected that Raimondo will win in Providence although Allan Fung may do some damage since he is Asian and it may attract minority voters. Either way to contend with a large turnout in Providence, Fung would need to win big in Cranston and Warwick. This is largely true for any Republican candidate on the ticket. To content with likely loses in Providence and Pawtucket, they need to sweep Cranston and Warwick.

The three towns that had the highest voter turnout based in 2010 were Jamestown, Little Compton, and Scituate. The thing is that while these areas saw more than half their voting population turn out overall it only accounts for only a couple thousand voters.

Areas that have turned out ten thousand or more voters in midterm elections aside from Providence, Pawtucket, Cranston and Warwick, (which have the highest number of voters turning out to the polls) are Coventry, Cumberland, East Providence, Johnston, North Kingstown, North Providence, and South Kingstown.

Outside of Providence, the city of Woonsocket also saw extremely low voter turnout in 2010 with only 37% of voters turning out.

It is likely that in this election the races will hinge on voter turnout. Allan Fung suffers from the fact that there are not all that many strong Republican Candidates. Although there are a few; Fung will benefit from Sharon Gamba who is trying to oust Rep. Bob Craven in North Kingstown as well as Representative Doreen Costa who will also turn out conservative votes in the North Kingstown Exeter area. Lacey McGreevy in South Kingstown, who is taking on Kathleen Fogarty, and Stephen Tetzner who is taking on Teresa Tanzi in Narragansett will also likely help Fung with voter turnout. On Aquidneck Island the reemergence of former State Representative Dan Reilly who is trying to oust Linda Finn will also turn out Republican voters.

If these candidates drive out voters then Fung may benefit from their candidacies. Although he still has to contend against strong Democrat candidates across the state that are likely to help Raimondo turn out the vote as part of a unified effort. Plus Raimondo has union support behind her belt.

Meanwhile, Fung and Raimondo both have to counteract the votes they are losing to Moderate Candidate Bob Healey. Diehard Ken Block supporters offended by Fung in the primary are likely to lean toward Healey, although their former candidate is publically supporting Fung. Additionally, voters disenfranchised with both candidates but want to vote will likely also lean toward Healey. Raimondo will be hurt by Healey when it comes to those who want to see marijuana legalized and some of the local arts community that is likely to relate to Healey.

While the attack ads and campaign rallies are continuing today on the Eve of the Election the only thing that is likely to sway the vote at this point is voter turnout. Voters will turn out if they feel their candidates have energy and their vote might matter. It is up to both campaigns to show the voters that their candidate needs voters to turn out to put them over the edge and into the governor’s office. 

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