With the COVID-19 pandemic mail-in voting has seen a huge bump as people are less likely to go to the polls. This year's primary election saw a 14.5% turnout, though notably Barrington, Lincoln and Warren didn't have a primary.
As for mail-in voting the 38,384 towers over previous years elections. The 2nd highest being only 7,114 in 2014. However, compared to general elections, 2016 saw 40,945 slightly higher than this year's primary.
Handling this many mail-in ballots compared to prior elections is likely possible due to RI Board of Elections purchasing new sorting equipment to process ballots.
Though it was only slightly higher then 2016's general. By percent of total votes this year saw 41% of all votes done by mail. While all elections since 2010 seeing under 10% of ballots coming from mail. This is a drastic increase that will continue into the general election in November.
As far as party voting by mail-in ballots goes there is increases for everyone. Democrats saw the largest amount for mail-in at 46%, followed by non-partisan with 33% and republicans with 15% voting by mail-in.
Sources: RI BOE