Rhode Island Elections

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Wisconsin Democrats ask U.S. Department of Justice for help monitoring polls on Election Day
10/26/16 |
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 14:30

The "poor implementation" and "misinformation" the lawmakers mentioned is an allusion to problems with the ID petition process (IDPP), which is designed to help people who don't have the proper documentation obtain IDs.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered the state to immediately provide more information to help people seeking state-issued voting credentials navigate the process. ...

The request [of a federal judge judge to either suspend the state's voter ID law or put in place remedial measures] came after media reports based on recordings from the advocacy group VoteRiders indicated Division of Motor Vehicles workers gave inaccurate information to people seeking IDs. ...

It will be Wisconsin's first presidential election with voter ID in place, although the law was passed in 2011. It has been tied up in court battles in the years that followed.

Amid early voting rush, Texas sees voter ID hiccups
10/26/16 |
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 05:00

This much is clear after two days of early voting in Texas: Legal wrangling over the state’s voter identification law is stirring confusion at the polls.

Amid Texans’ mad dash to polling places this week, the front end of 12 days of voting before Election Day, civil rights groups and some voters are questioning how some county election officials are portraying the state’s voter identification requirements, which a federal judge softened in August.

Among the complaints in pockets of Texas: years-old posters inaccurately describing the rules — more than a dozen instances in Bexar County — and poll workers who were reluctant to tell voters that some could cast ballots without photo identification.

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Rhode Island Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: October 9, 2016

For more information, visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.

Election Day:

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day. The only exception is New Shoreham (Block Island), where the polls must be open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.  

Rhode Island does not have early voting.


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines: You must register 30 days prior to the General Election. The deadline for this year’s General Election is Monday, October 9.

In Presidential elections, however, non-registered eligible voters can still register and vote only for President and Vice-President on the day of the election at designated locations.

How to Check Your Registration: Use Rhode Island’s Registrant Search website or call 866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: In order to be eligible to register and vote in Rhode Island, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Reside in Rhode Island;
  • Be at least 16 years old on or before Election Day (you must be at least 18 years of age to vote on Election Day);  
  • Not be incarcerated in a correctional facility due to a felony conviction;
  • Not be presently judged mentally incompetent to vote by a court.

There is no duration of residence requirement in Rhode Island; you may register the first day that you move to the state. However, you cannot vote for local candidates or issues until you have been registered at that address for 30 days.

How to Register:  Rhode Island residents may register online, by mail, or in person.


Visit the Secretary of State’s online voter registration website. You will need a Rhode Island driver’s license or state ID.

By Mail

In order to register by mail, you must obtain a mail-in registration form by:

  • Downloading a mail-in form from the Secretary of State’s website;
  • Picking up a form at your local board of canvassers, Rhode Island DMV office, or any state agency that provides public assistance or services to persons with disabilities;
  • Picking up a form at a college or university, public school, library, or armed forces recruitment office.

Once you complete the form, you can mail it to your local Board of Canvassers.

In Person

You may register to vote in person in the following ways:

  • When making a transaction at the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles; or
  • At the Board of Canvassers located at the county seat in your county of residence.

Identification Required for Registration

Voters who are registering to vote for the first time in Rhode Island by mail must provide their Rhode Island driver’s license or ID Number, or the last 4 digits of their social security number, if available. Identification can be presented at the polls if the applicant does not include it with the initial application.

If You Want to Vote Early

Rhode Island does not have early voting, but certain registered voters may vote by mail (absentee voting). For more information on absentee voting, visit the Secretary of State’s vote by mail information page.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

A voter may cast an absentee ballot if he or she:

  • Might not be able to vote at his or her polling place on Election Day;
  • Will be outside the United States on Election Day;
  • Is ill or has a mental or physical disability that prevents a trip to the polling place;
  • Is confined in a hospital or nursing home within Rhode Island; or
  • Is outside of Rhode Island in connection with military service.

A voter can get an application for a mail (absentee) ballot at the local Board or download one from the Secretary of State’s website.

Emergency Voting: Applications can be made after the absentee deadline if circumstances arise within 20 days of the election which prevent a voter from going to the polls on Election Day. A voter should contact his or her local board of canvassers.

Rules and Deadlines:

  • An absentee ballot application must be turned in to the local Board no later than 4 p.m., 21 days before the election. For the 2016 Presidential Election, this deadline is 4 p.m. on October 18, 2016. 
  • An emergency mail ballot application must be turned in to the local Board no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the election;
  • All mail ballots, including emergency mail ballots, must be received by the State Board of Elections by 8:00 p.m. the night of the election. 

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

A voter must provide valid photo identification at the polling place in order to vote a regular ballot. Valid forms of ID are:

  • Valid Rhode Island Driver’s License;
  • Valid Rhode Island Photo Voter ID Card (can be obtained for free);
  • Valid Rhode Island State issued ID;
  • Valid Federally issued ID;
  • Valid U.S. passport;
  • Valid ID card issued by a U.S. educational institution, provided it includes a photo;
  • Valid Military ID card containing a photo; and
  • Valid government issued medical card.

The address on the photo identification does not have to match the address on the voter rolls.

Without one of these forms of identification, a voter is permitted to vote with a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot will be counted if the local Board determines that the signature on the provisional ballot matches the signature on the voter’s registration.

A voter who is a member of the military or who resides overseas is eligible to vote by absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), and is not required to provide ID when voting with an absentee ballot.

VoteRiders has created Rhode Island voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

If you moved to your current residence less than 30 days before the election, you can vote at the polling place for your former address. 

You may update your address on your voter registration record if the election is more than 30 days away.  This may be done by submitting a new voter registration form, which can be done online or with a paper form found on the Secretary of State’s website. If you do not update your address before the deadline, the following rules apply:

Moving to a Different Precinct Within The Same City Or Town

If you moved to a different precinct in the same city or town, you can vote at the polling place of your new address. 

Moving to a Different City or Town

If you moved from another city or town within Rhode Island more than 30 days, but less than 6 months, prior to the election, you can vote with a limited ballot at the polling place in your previous city or town of registration.

If you moved from another city or town within Rhode Island more than 6 months before the election, you are only eligible to vote for President and Vice-President during a presidential election.  You can do this at your local Board of Canvassers in your current city or town on Election Day.

Military and other overseas citizens may use the standard procedure for absentee voting by mail, but there are also special provisions for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Merchant Marine, Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with family members of all these groups, and other citizens who reside outside the United States (together these groups are called UOCAVA voters).

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) Rhode Island specific FPCA page.

UOCAVA voters may also register to vote and request an absentee ballot through the Rhode Island Military & Overseas Voting Services website or by calling 800-274-VOTE (8683).

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

Military and overseas citizens can send and receive voting materials by fax and email.  If the voter wishes to use the fax or email options, s/he must indicate this on her/his FPCA. If the voter chooses to receive a ballot by fax, s/he must submit the request, along with her/his fax number, by 4:00 p.m. at least 21 days before the election. All ballots must be received by the State Board of Elections by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Instructions for doing so are found on the FVAP’s Rhode Island specific FPCA page.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters.  

In order to use the FWAB, the voter must be registered to vote and have already requested an absentee ballot at least 21 days before the election.  The voter can use this FWAB whether located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that the voter is away from her/his voting residence for service-related activities. The voter’s FWAB must be received by her/his local voting officials in Rhode Island no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s Rhode Island specific FWAB page

A resident of Rhode Island who has been convicted of a felony and is currently incarcerated may not vote in Rhode Island elections. However, voting rights are restored to all Rhode Island residents who have been released from incarceration or who were never incarcerated following felony convictions.


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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2016 Election Information for your state