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Special Referendum Election Results in Large Turnout at Polls

Voter turnout for the special election expected to be 50 percent higher than September's statewide primary.

Despite the chilly autumn air and brief rain showers, voters turned out in large numbers for Tuesday's special referendum election.

Lines of voters quickly formed to enter the polling site at Town Hall. Parking spaces were sparse at the Aquidneck Island Christian Academy as police directed traffic in and out of the school's parking lot.

As of 10 a.m., Registrar of Voters Madeleine Pencak reported 759 ballots being cast throughout town, an increase of nearly 50 percent over the turnout at the September statewide primary when only 392 ballots had been counted by 10 a.m. in town. Pencak said she expected 30 to 40 percent of voters to turn out for this special election.

Both candidates for office, as well as members of the Save Our Schools organization, were seen outside several polling locations.

Among the Portsmouth residents voting early Tuesday morning was Republican gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille, who cast  his ballot at the Aquidneck Island Christian Academy polling location. When asked how he voted, Robitaille responded by saying "I voted once."

The referendum asks voters two options: to restore $765,301 to the school department's budget or to keep the school budget as it was approved by the Town Council. A sample of the special election ballot can be found here. 

If approved, the referendum would authorize a total school budget of about $36.3 million. The referendum would also increase taxes about 20 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value, or an additional tax hike of $71.44 annually for a $350,000 home.

For more highlights from today's referendum election, please see the photos and video below.

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