Rhode Island Elections

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Your State

Upcoming Elections

2016 Congressional/State Primary: Tuesday, September 13

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Sunday, August 14

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

  • Voter Registration Deadline: October 9

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

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.


More state specific election info below.

Voting Rights

News

What's the Fix for Texas' Voter ID Law? "Time is short" to implement a replacement
07/28/16 |
Publication Date: 
Friday, July 29, 2016 - 00:00
Excerpt: 

Voter ID in Texas violates the Voting Rights Act, and the state must develop new rules before the November election. That was the definitive statement in a majority opinion, nine to six, issued by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last week. But don't put your driver's license away quite yet. While the court has ruled that the current state rules are in the wrong, no one knows what the replacement rules will look like. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said, "We don't know very much. The takeaway is that we don't know what to do." ...

The appeals court found that it's not just that the current law has left over 600,000 registered voters in Texas without the right documentation to exercise their constitutional right: it's that the rules have a disproportionate impact on minority voters. In total, 4.5% of all registered voters in the state lack a suitable government-issued photo ID; however, that figure drops to 2% for white residents, rises to 6% for Hispanic residents, and a startling 8% among African-Americans voters. Moreover, the ruling castigated the state for its "lackluster educational efforts" in informing voters on what they needed. ...

The more pressing question for DeBeau­voir and her fellow county clerks is when the interim rules will be decided. If the court is to fashion new processes in time for November, "time is short," the appeals justices wrote. Early voting for the Nov. 8 election begins on Oct. 24, but with training of election judges scheduled to begin in September, DeBeauvoir said, "We really need the trial court to give us that advice by Labor Day.”

Do Voter ID Laws Really Prevent Election Fraud?
07/27/16 |
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 05:00
Excerpt: 

The thought of someone casting a fraudulent vote, whether via impersonation, voting multiple times, or voting when ineligible, is very disturbing. But study after study has shown that it’s extremely rare, and doesn’t have a statistical effect on elections. These aren’t the days of Tammany Hall, or even Daly-era Chicago.

We do know, however, that voter identification laws have an impact on elections, and in some cases the percentage spread is enough that it could change the outcome of the election, as the [Government Accountability Office] found in its research.

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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

Rhode Island Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 Congressional/State Primary: Tuesday, September 13

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Sunday, August 14

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

  • Voter Registration Deadline: October 9

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

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

Polls statewide close at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.  Anyone in line to vote at closing time is allowed to vote.  Poll opening hours vary by community.  Check yours here.

Rhode Island does not have in-person early voting.

To locate your polling place, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State's Voter Information Center, or contact your local Board of Canvassers.

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.


Registration Deadlines

In order to vote in an election, you must register 30 days before Election Day.  You may register in person on Election Day but ONLY in Presidential elections and you will only be allowed to vote for the offices of President and Vice President.

How to Check if You Are Registered

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State's Voter Information Center, or contact your local Board of Canvassers.

How to Register

By Mail:

In order to register to vote, you must complete a voter registration form, available in English and Spanish.  You must mail your completed form to your local Board of Canvassers.  The form requires either a valid driver’s license number, a valid Rhode Island ID number or the last four digits of your social security number.  If you do not include this information, you must show one of the types of identification listed below to an election official anytime from when you register to when you vote.  If you choose to show a non-photo identification, the identification must have the voter’s name and address on it.

In Person:

You may also register in person by completing the Rhode Island Voter Registration Form at public agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Human Services and the Department of Mental Health, armed forces recruiting offices, and the local board of canvassers.

You will receive a notification by mail confirming your voter registration.  You will also receive a notification by mail if there are any problems with your registration.

Registration Eligibility

To register to vote in Rhode Island, you MUST be:

  • A U.S. citizen;
  • A resident of the Rhode Island city or town where you intend to vote; and
  • At least 16 years old. You must be at least 18 years old to vote.

Identification Required for Registration

If you are a first time mail registrant in Rhode Island or a first time registrant through a third party, you must provide your valid Rhode Island driver's license number or valid Rhode Island ID number issued by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles.  If you do not have a valid state-issued driver's license or ID number, you must provide the last four digits of your social security number

If you do not present a Rhode Island driver's license, Rhode Island ID, or social security number, or if these numbers cannot be verified, you will be required to present one of the following forms of identification at either the time of registration, prior to voting, or at the time of voting:

  • Rhode Island Driver's license or state-issued ID card;
  • U.S. Passport;
  • Employee identification card;
  • Identification card provided by a commercial establishment;
  • Credit or debit card;
  • Military identification card;
  • Student identification card;
  • Health club identification card;
  • Insurance plan identification card; or
  • Public housing identification card.

If you do not have one of the items listed above, you may also present a copy of any of the following documents, provided that the document includes the name and current address of the individual presenting it, and is dated since the date of the last general election, unless the document is intended to be of a permanent nature such as a pardon or discharge:

  • Utility bill;
  • Bank statement;
  • Government check;
  • Government paycheck;
  • Document issued by a government agency;
  • Sample ballot or other official elections document issued by a governmental agency, dated for the election in which the individual is providing it as proof of residency or identity;
  • Voter notification card issued by a governmental agency;
  • Public housing identification card issued by a governmental agency;
  • Lease or rental statement or agreement issued by a governmental agency;
  • Student identification card issued by a governmental agency;
  • Tuition statement or bill issued by a governmental agency;
  • Insurance plan card or drug discount card issued by a government agency;
  • Discharge certificates, pardons, or other official documents issued to the individual by a governmental agency in connection with the resolution of a criminal case, indictment, sentence; or other matter;
  • Public transportation authority senior citizen and disabled discount cards issued by a governmental agency;
  • Identification documents issued by governmental disability agencies;
  • Identification documents issued by government homeless shelters and other government temporary or transitional facilities;
  • Drug prescription issued by a government doctor or other governmental health care provider;
  • Property tax statement issued by a governmental agency;
  • Vehicle registration issued by a governmental agency; or
  • Vehicle certificate of ownership issued by a governmental agency.

How to Check Registration

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State's Voter Information Center, or contact your local Board of Canvassers.

Absentee Voting

If you are a registered voter, you may vote by mail (absentee voting).  Rhode Island allows no excuse mail ballot voting.  If you may not be able to get to the polls on Election Day, you can fill out a mail ballot application and receive a mail ballot.

Rules and Deadlines for Absentee Voting

To apply for a mail ballot, you must first obtain an application for a mail ballot from your local board of canvassers.  You may pick up an application yourself, have another person pick one up for you or call your local board and request that an application be sent to you.  Click here to download an application.

Mail ballot applications must be filled out completely and received by your local board no later than 4:00 P.M. on the 21st day before the election or primary in which you wish to vote.  Please note that the application has to be physically at the local board by 4:00 P.M. on the deadline.  Postmarked applications received after the deadline will not be accepted.  Local Boards will not be responsible if you fail to deliver a properly completed application by the deadline.

If circumstances arise within 20 days of the election, which prevent you from going to the polls to vote on Election Day, you may be eligible to vote an emergency mail ballot.  Emergency mail ballots are not available on Election Day.  If you become ill after 4:00 pm the day before an election, you will be unable to vote.

Early Voting

Early voting is not permitted in Rhode Island.

Identification Requirements to Register to Vote

If you are a first time mail registrant in Rhode Island or a first time registrant through a third party, you must provide your valid Rhode Island driver's license number or valid Rhode Island ID number issued by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles.  If you do not have a valid state-issued driver's license or ID number, you must provide the last four digits of your social security number

If you do not present a Rhode Island driver's license, Rhode Island ID, or social security number, or if these numbers cannot be verified, you will be required to present one of the following forms of identification at either the time of registration, prior to voting, or at the time of voting:

  • Rhode Island Driver's license or state-issued identification card;
  • RI voter identification card;
  • U.S. Passport;
  • Employee identification card;
  • Identification card provided by a commercial establishment;
  • Credit or debit card;
  • Military identification card;
  • Student identification card;
  • Health club identification card;
  • Insurance plan identification card; or
  • Public housing identification card.

If you do not have one of the items listed above, you may also present a copy of any of the following documents, provided that the document includes the name and current address of the individual presenting it, and is dated since the date of the last general election, unless the document is intended to be of a permanent nature such as a pardon or discharge:

  • Utility bill;
  • Bank statement;
  • Government check;
  • Government paycheck;
  • Document issued by a government agency;
  • Sample ballot or other official elections document issued by a governmental agency, dated for the election in which the individual is providing it as proof of residency or identity;
  • Voter notification card issued by a governmental agency;
  • Public housing identification card issued by a governmental agency;
  • Lease or rental statement or agreement issued by a governmental agency;
  • Student identification card issued by a governmental agency;
  • Tuition statement or bill issued by a governmental agency;
  • Insurance plan card or drug discount card issued by a government agency;
  • Discharge certificates, pardons, or other official documents issued to the individual by a governmental agency in connection with the resolution of a criminal case, indictment, sentence; or other matter;
  • Public transportation authority senior citizen and disabled discount cards issued by a governmental agency;
  • Identification documents issued by governmental disability agencies;
  • Identification documents issued by government homeless shelters and other government temporary or transitional facilities;
  • Drug prescription issued by a government doctor or other governmental health care provider;
  • Property tax statement issued by a governmental agency;
  • Vehicle registration issued by a governmental agency; or
  • Vehicle certificate of ownership issued by a governmental agency.

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

All voters must present a valid photo ID prior to voting.  A voter must present one of the following forms of photo identification:

  • Rhode Island Driver's License;
  • Rhode Island state ID card;
  • RI Voter ID Card*;
  • U.S. Passport;
  • ID issued by a U.S. educational institution;
  • U.S. military ID;
  • ID card issued by the United States or the State of Rhode Island; or
  • Government issued medical card.

If a voter does not present photo ID prior to voting, she or he can cast a provisional ballot.  If a voter casts a provisional ballot only because you did not bring photo identification to the polls, the local board of canvassers will compare your signature on record with the signature on the provisional ballot.  The ballot will only be accepted if the local board determines that the signatures match.

You may update your address on your voter registration record if the election is more than 30 days away.  If you do not update your address before the deadline, the following rules apply:

  • 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.  Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE and we can help you find that polling place.
  • If you moved from another City/Town within Rhode Island 30 days or more, but less than 6 months, prior to the election you can vote a Limited Ballot at the Board of Canvassers of your previous City/Town of registration (i.e., the City/Town you moved FROM).
  • If you moved from another City/Town within Rhode Island more than 6 months before the election, you are only eligible to vote for President/Vice-President during a presidential election.  You can do this at your local Board of Canvassers in your current City/Town on Election Day.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), also known as Standard Form 76, to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) Rhode Island-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can send and receive voting materials by fax and email.  If you wish to use the fax or email options, you must indicate this on your FPCA. If you choose to receive a ballot by fax, you must submit your request , along with your 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.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if they are concerned with receiving their printed ballot and returning it by the 7:00 p.m., Election Day deadline.  The FWAB is a blank ballot on which voters write-in their choices.  The FWAB may also be used  to register to vote and to apply for the absentee ballot, all in one step.  If the FWAB is being used to register to vote, it must be received by the voter registration deadline.  For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s Rhode Island-specific FWAB page.

If you have been convicted of a felony and are currently serving your sentence, you are not eligible to register to vote or to vote.  Once you have served your sentence, you may register and vote even if you are on probation.

For more information, visit Rhode Island's Board of Elections website or click here to read the Rhode Island State Election Code.

**The materials below have not been updated since 2014**

FAQ

Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, visit the National Disability Rights Network’s voting resource center.

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

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

2016 Election Information for your state