Narducci takes over as Board of Canvassers manager

Narducci takes over as Board of Canvassers manager

WOONSOCKET – Michael Narducci picked quite a year to become manager of the Woonsocket Board of Canvassers.

The board is currently gearing up for an unprecedented election, when millions of people nationally are expected to vote by mail or other alternative methods to avoid the risks of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Thankfully for Narducci, managing an election is business as usual. The Cranston resident has worked in elections since he was 18, when he got a job as an elections inspector for the statewide Board of Elections.

In 1995, he went to work for the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s Elections Division under then-Secretary of State Jim Langevin. Starting out as an administrative assistant, he worked his way up to become interim director, handling a variety of elections responsibilities including certifying candidates and coordinating voting for overseas citizens.

“Where before I was overseeing it, different functions, now I’m actually implementing it,” he said.

After a brief stint in Florida, he and is wife returned to New England in 2016 and he took a job working for Electec Election Services, a New Jersey-based company that makes elections technology.

On July 6, he was officially appointed as the manager of the city Board of Canvassers, filling a post left vacant by the retirement of Estelle Corriveau this past spring.

Though most residents don’t think much about the Board of Canvassers until the first week of November, Narducci has big plans for the position. His main goal, he said, is to increase voter turnout in Woonsocket. During presidential years, that turnout currently hovers around 46 percent compared with 60 to 65 percent in other communities. It’s a common problem in urban communities, where people tend to transition in and out of the city, he said.

Like in most communities, turnout for local elections is an even bigger challenge.

“People come out in droves to vote for president. Where your politics are more important is locally,” said Narducci. “They’re the ones who affect you every day. If you need a pothole fixed on your street, you don’t call the president. You call your local city council person, the mayor.”

At the moment, those initiatives will have to wait. Narducci and other Board of Canvassers staff are currently in the process of planning for a primary and general election, both of which will feature special precautions due to the ongoing pandemic. Though the Sept. 8 primary is expected to be small, with only local party district committees drawing enough candidates to qualify for a primary, the Nov. 3 general election will arrive with the full force of a contentious presidential year as well as a full slate of local candidates.

“My main priority, especially when the polling places open, is making sure everybody has hand sanitizer. Social distancing’s going to be very important. Just keeping our poll workers and our voters safe through this is going to be a function,” he said.

Rhode Island is currently considering several pieces of legislation related to alternative voting methods during the pandemic. One of them, which would allow voters to place emergency mail ballots directly in a voting machine at their local Board of Canvassers office instead of a sealed envelope, thereby speeding up the elections process, has already passed the General Assembly and is expected to become state law.

Another bill, which would send mail ballot applications to every registered voter, has the backing of Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea but has encountered pushback in the General Assembly.

“We’re waiting for directive from the state as far as waiting to see what’s going to happen with the legislation,” said Narducci.

Narducci said that regardless of what happens with the legislation, he expects this election to look different from other years.