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Voting & Elections Toolkits

Voter Registration in Rhode Island

Eligibility

  • Age: At least 16 and turning 18 before Election Day.
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals: May vote during incarceration. Formerly incarcerated individuals may vote. They will need to notify local board of canvassers in writing or submit a new voter registration form.
  • Citizenship: Must be a US citizen.
  • Residence: Must be a resident of the Rhode Island municipality in which they are voting.
  • College students can either vote absentee in their home state or register to vote in RI.
  • Check to see if you are already registered https://vote.sos.ri.gov/.

More information: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/.

Deadline

Online registration

To use the online voter registration system you must have a current and valid driver’s license, learner’s permit or non-driver photo identification card issued by the RI Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and a signature on file with DMV.

Online registration form in English and Spanish: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/ovr/?search_type=register

Mail-in or In-person registration

Printable forms: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/assets/pdfs/voter_registration_form.pdf 

Refer to the box below for information about ID requirements.

You may choose a political party affiliation when you register, but it is not required.                 

Updating registration      

To update registration after a move, name change, or change of political party affiliation, use the voter registration form.

Cancelling registration

The Registrar of Canvassers in each town maintains the voter rolls. To remove someone from a voter roll, contact the local Board of Canvassers.

Directory of Local Boards of Canvassers: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/ovr/info/local_boards/

ID Requirements for Rhode Island Voters

ID Requirements for Registration

Online Registration

For online voter registration, a Rhode Island drivers license or state ID is required.

Mail-in and In-person Registration

An ID is not required for mail-in registration, but you must provide the information from one of the documents listed on the form to verify residence:

  • Driver’s license number; OR
  • Last four digits of Social Security number.

ID Requirements for Voting

Voters will be asked to show a valid Photo ID. Options include:

  • RI driver's license or permit;
  • US passport;
  • ID card issued by any federally recognized tribal government;
  • ID card issued by an education institution in the US;
  • US military ID card;
  • ID issued by the US government or Sate of Rhode Island;
  • Government issued medical card; or
  • RI Voter ID.

Voters who do not bring ID to the polls can vote using a standard provisional ballot, which will be counted if the signature they provide at the poling place matches the signature on their voter registration card.

Mail ballots do not require voter ID.

More information: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/assets/pdfs/voter_id_information.pdf

Where to get an ID

Department of Motor Vehicles

Obtaining a Driver’s License

Casting a Ballot in Rhode Island

Important Dates

  • Presidential Preference Primary: June 2, 2020
  • Primary Election: September 8, 2020
  • General Election: November 3, 2020
  • Early voting: Rhode Island does not allow early in-person voting.

Vote by Mail

Military voters and voters who reside outside the U.S.

  • Register and request your absentee ballot and learn more about the process with the Federal Post Care Application (FPCA): https://www.fvap.gov/rhode-island
  • ​Presidential Primary (April 28, 2020) Dates:
    • Registration: March 29, 2020
    • Ballot Request Received by: April 7, 2020
    • Ballot Returned by: May 1, 2020
  • State Primary (September 8, 2020) Dates:
    • Registration due by: August 9, 2020
    • Ballot Request Received by: August 18, 2020
    • Ballot Returned by: September 11, 2020
  • General Election (November 3, 2020) Dates:
    • Registration due by: October 4, 2020
    • Ballot Requested by: October 13, 2020
    • Ballot Returned by: November 10, 2020

For more information visit: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/Voter/VotebyMail?ActiveFlag=4

Polling places and hours

Rides to the polls

Many organizations offer free rides to polling places. Some of these include:

Help for disabled voters

  • Each poling place has at least one handicapped-accessible voting both designated for voters over the age of 65 or disabled.
  • Voters who have a medical disability which would cause the voter severe discomfort by standing in line is allowed to move to the front of the line.
  • Each polling place is equipped with a sheet magnifier to assist voters who are visually impaired.
  • Voters may request assistance from a bipartisan pair of poll workers.
  • Federal and state laws allow voters who are blind, disabled, or unable to read or write to bring a person of their choice into the voting booth. An affidavit must be completed. 
  • Voters who are visually impaired may request a Braille or tactile mail ballot here: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/Content/Pdfs/braille_tactile_mail_ballot_application.pdf
  • The Rhode Island Disability Law Center - Protection and Advocacy Voter Assistance Hotline: 401-831-3150
  • Rhode Island Disability Law Center - Voting Rights: https://www.drri.org/what-we-do/issues/voting-rights

Ballots

Referenda Information: Forthcoming

Sample ballots

  • 2020 Primary Election: Forthcoming
  • 2020 General Election: Forthcoming

Elections

Primaries vs. general elections

  • Primary elections are conducted to select each party’s candidates in the general election.
  • In Rhode Island, a voter must be a member of a political party in order to vote in that party’s primary.
  • In a general election, voters are not required to have a party affiliation.

Jurisdiction

Offices/Measures That May Appear on the Ballot

Federal (even years)

President/Vice-President (elected every four years; next election in 2020)

Senator (elected every six years for staggered terms; next election in 2020)

Representative (elected every two years)

State (even years)

Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Comptroller, Attorney General, Judges of Probate (elected every four years; next election in 2022)

State Senator (elected every two years)

State Representative (elected every two years)

Statewide ballot measures

Municipal (varies)

School Board and other boards and commissions

Mayor or First Selectman

Town Clerk

Registrar of Voters

Tax Collector

Treasurer

Aldermen or Selectmen

Constable

Local ballot measures

Who are the candidates, and what else is on the ballot?

Important Dates

  • Presidential Preference Primary: April 28, 2020
  • State-wide Primary (must be registered to vote by August 9): September 8, 2020
  • General Election (must be registered to vote by October 4): November 3, 2020

 

Who conducts elections?

  • The Rhode Island Board of Elections oversees campaign finance, trains poll workers, tests and prepares voting machines and e-poll books, oversees Election Day operations statewide, tallies initial results, and certifies election results.
  • The Rhode Island Department of State trains local officials on the Central Voter Registration System (CVRS), maintains online voter registration, certifies state and federal candidates, prepares ballots, sends ballots to voters, prepares elections calendar, and provides voter IDs.
  • The Boards of Canvassers maintain local voter records, certify nomination papers, process mail ballot applications, identify polling places, recruit poll workers, process emergency ballots, and oversees Election Day operations locally.

https://vote.sos.ri.gov/Elections/Administration

Where to go with complaints about candidates or how elections are conducted

 

Campaign finance

The Rhode Island Board of Elections (http://www.elections.ri.gov/finance/) provides access to candidates’ election committee and Political Action Committee campaign finance filings.

How to contact your elected officials:

Find your elected officials: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/Home/ElectedOfficials?ActiveFlag=3

General Resources on Voting and Elections

General Resources on Voting and Elections


Hotlines


1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)

1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)


Voter Registration & Election Day Resources

Find useful voter information including:

  • Local Election Office and Contact Information
  • Address, Telephone and Email for Local Election Offices
  • Upcoming Federal Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Upcoming State Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Identification Requirements
  • Voter Materials Transmission Options
  • State Lookup Tools – Am I Registered? Where’s my Ballot?

Population-Specific information and Resources

Voting Rights: Laws, Cases, Policy

Voter Engagement

Voter Education

Campaign Finance/Funding Information

Primary Sources, Lesson Plans & Exhibits

Disclaimer

Librarians from the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT), a Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA), created these reference guides. These guides are intended for informational purposes only and are not in any way intended to be legal advice.

These guides are designated with a Creative Commons license and re-use and modification for educational purposes is encouraged.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.