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 meeting.
"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 vote.
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 afternoon.
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 mistake."
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.