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Texas bill: A step towards better voter ID education, greater transparency
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 12:00

The state has a responsibility to educate the public about voter identification requirements under SB 14, the voter ID law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. In July 2016, the state was also ordered by a federal court to engage in a $2.5 million voter ID education campaign as part of an interim remedy agreement. Despite evidence that the 2016 voter ID education campaign was not entirely successful, the state has not been forthcoming with details about the plan.

HB 3328 seeks to increase government transparency in the interest of improving voter ID education efforts by making information related to public spending on voter ID education public information subject to disclosure under the Public Information Act. The exceptions described in Sections 552.101 and 552.103 of the Government Code would no longer apply to such information.

Recent rulings that Texas' voting laws discriminate put pressure on the state, but the road ahead is long
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 01:00

Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill to address the discriminatory issues found with the voter ID law. But Democrats say it falls short of meeting the standards that a district court set last year.

Plaintiffs want District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi to consider throwing out the law after the legislative session and returning the state to the federal government's "pre-clearance" list.

But even if that happened, the Texas attorney general's office would almost certainly challenge the decision in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. ...

The parties in the [redistricting] case are set to meet in San Antonio on Thursday. The three-judge panel will hear updates on whether a trial is needed and what a timeline for the rest of the case might look like.

But the panel has moved slowly and methodically throughout the case for over six years. It is unlikely to grant the plaintiffs' requests — for new congressional maps for the 2018 elections and federal oversight — before tackling other remaining issues, such as whether the 2013 interim maps were also discriminatory.

And even if the court sided with the plaintiffs in a trial and struck down the maps, Texas could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court — dragging out the case even longer.

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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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Election Information for your state