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Biden, Trump chalk up more primary wins in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Joe Biden and President Donald Trump handily won Tuesday's presidential primaries in Rhode Island — balloting that ended up being more of a logistical test of voting by mail during a pandemic than a political challenge for the candidates.

Tuesday’s outcome was a foregone conclusion. Biden, Barack Obama’s former vice president, is the only Democratic contender with an active campaign, even though ballots for his party’s primary still listed Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard.

Likewise, Trump faced no credible GOP opposition from perennial candidate Roque de la Fuente, a businessman, or former Republican Gov. William Weld of Massachusetts, who suspended his campaign.

Nationwide unrest touched off by George Floyd's death in Minnesota was on Rhode Island voters' minds as they cast ballots.

Orla Power, a 28-year-old Providence paralegal, said she was motivated to vote by the death of Floyd — a black man who died in handcuffs as a white Minneapolis officer used a knee to pin the man’s neck to the ground even after he had stopped breathing — and the violent national reckoning that has followed.

“One way that I could say something, stand up in some way ... was to vote who is in office right now out of office and put someone with humanity in. So that’s what I did,” Power said.

Nicholas Autiello, who works in finance, said his vote Tuesday for Biden was also a vote against Trump.

“The nomination is already a foregone conclusion, so a lot of people feel like it might not be important to vote in this primary today. But it’s always important to vote,” Autiello said after voting at the casino at Roger William Park in Providence.

“Being able to come out here this morning and fill in a circle next to a name for someone who I know will restore honor and decency to the presidency was so important,” he said.

The COVID-19 crisis had prompted the state to mail ballots to registered voters who requested them as a safer alternative to packing precincts. In-person voting was still offered at few locations for voters who missed the deadline to request a mail ballot.

No voting irregularities were reported by mid-evening Tuesday.

In predominantly Democratic Rhode Island, Trump managed only 38.9% of the vote in the 2016 general election, which Hillary Clinton won easily in the state with 54.4%. In 2012, Obama won Rhode Island by more than 27 percentage points.

Primary voting also took place Tuesday in Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and the District of Columbia.

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