A string of WikiLeaks-supplied emails leaked from Democratic National Committee (DNC) staff bearing the subject line “Problem brewing in Rhode Island” addresses the controversial lack of polling locations opened in Rhode Island during the April presidential primary and the DNC’s plans to beat the Republicans and Bernie Sanders supporters to the punch in questioning the governor and the secretary of state.
When it was announced that Rhode Island would open less than half of available polling locations for the presidential primary, DNC deputy communications director Eric Walker had the foresight to email communications director Louis Miranda.
“Bernie leads Hillary by 4 in the latest poll,” he wrote in an email the day before the primary. “If she outperforms this polling, the Bernie camp will go nuts and allege misconduct. They’ll probably complain regardless, actually.”
“We might want to get out in front of this one with an inquiry to the RI Gov, even though she’s one of ours,” he concluded in the email.
On the heels of the DNC calling attention to a similar situation in Republican-led Arizona, DNC staff seemed to have wanted to make sure they didn’t seem one-sided.
“Was thinking a letter so that if press asks us about it, we can show we are responsive and active. If we’re crying foul in AZ, we might need to do the same - at least nominally - in RI so we don’t look like hypocrites. I think when we start getting inquiries, if we have a letter to the SOS [secretary of state] that we can point to, it will show that we are engaged and that we don’t just pipe up when it’s a Republican administration closing poll locations,” wrote Walker in an April 26 email. “We can make the point to reporters individually off the record that it’s not apples and oranges: Arizona more serious because the state was covered under VRA [Voting Rights Act] and has had a history of problems - Rhode Island doesn’t have those same historical issues.”
Soon, the DNC realized that the secretary of state doesn’t manage elections, but the state’s board of elections does. On top of that, the number of polling locations they’ve opened are consistent with the numbers opened in 2008 and 2012.
“They’ve also increased the number of poll workers, ballots and booths to accommodate any unexpected surges,” reads an email from WilsonE@dnc.org to Walker. “So, if we do write a letter, it would need to be to the Board of Elections. I’d be a little cautious about pulling the trigger on it too soon. Can we give some of this info on background to show we’ve made inquiries to the state if we start getting calls and then punt it back to RI?”
The polling locations turned out to be a non-issue, though, when Sanders defeated Clinton by more than 10,000 votes.