Home A project of States Newsroom
Documentary on election workers’ role in our democracy to screen Sept. 28 at RIC


Documentary on election workers’ role in our democracy to screen Sept. 28 at RIC

Sep 21, 2023 | 3:00 pm ET
By Janine L. Weisman
Documentary on election workers’ role in our democracy to screen Sept. 28 at RIC
Administrator of Elections Kathy Placencia in the city of Providence delivers voting booths in 'No Time to Fail.' (Margo Guernsey/'No Time to Fail')

Spoiler alert: The last scene of the documentary film “No Time to Fail” features Cranston Director of Elections Nick Lima renewing his oath to continue serving the city. Lima took the oath on Jan. 3, 2021.

“The whole audience understands what’s to come,” Providence filmmaker Sarah Archambault said of the Capitol riots of Jan 6, 2021. “So we really felt like we did not have to repeat that for them.”

Instead, Archambault and co-director/co-producer Margo Guernsey chose to “mark the poisoning without giving it oxygen or more gasoline.” Their 90-minute film explores the experience of election administrators working round the clock to secure the vote for their community during the tumultuous 2020 election while besieged by the pandemic and false claims from then-President Donald Trump.

Documentary on election workers’ role in our democracy to screen Sept. 28 at RIC
Rob Rock, then director of elections for the Rhode Island Department of State, receives hate mail in the documentary film ‘No Time to Fail.’ (Sara Archambault/’No Time to Fail’)

“Not Time to Fail” has screened at film festivals in Rhode Island, Salem, Boston, New Hampshire and Atlanta. A Sept. 12 screening followed by a discussion with the filmmaker at Salve Regina University in Newport was sold out.

Now there’s another chance to see the film and hear from Archambault in person. The American Democracy Project at Rhode Island College will host a screening of the film with a panel discussion featuring Archambault and others on Thursday, Sept. 28, from 5:15-8:15 p.m. in Gaige Hall, Room 100. The event includes a reception before the 6 p.m. screening.

Joining Archambault on the panel will be Secretary of State Gregg Amore; Deputy Secretary of State Rob Rock; Director of Elections Kathy Placencia; and RIC Professor and Director of Film Studies Vincent Bohlinger. The panel will be moderated by RIC Associate Professor of Political Science, Michelle Brophy-Baermann. Both Rock and Placencia appear in the film.

This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are available on EventBrite. To attend, please register by Friday Sept. 22.

The film asks viewers to consider what is at stake with our democracy and what happens when vast amounts of disinformation disrupt the trust that holds elections together. Archambault, a self-described “longtime civics nerd,” came up with the idea in the spring of 2020 just as pandemic lockdowns put essential workers on center stage of the public discourse. As the presidential preference primary was moved from April to June, election officials were under tremendous stress and put their lives on the line for the sake of our democracy, she said.

“These people are not the deep state, these are your neighbors,” Archambault said. “They live in your community and they are trying to help you understand your civic culture and get your vote counted.”

“No Time to Fail” premieres Thursday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m. as part of the “America ReFramed” series on the World Channel.