The office of the R.I. Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis has begun mailing election guides to local voters ahead of the Nov. 6 election. The handbooks should start arriving in their mailboxes soon.
The 32-page guide includes descriptions of every statewide ballot question and bond issue as well as information about the state’s new Voter ID law, special accommodations for voters who are elderly, disabled or visually impaired and changes in the location of polling places due to redistricting.
“The guide is also posted on our website at sos.ri.gov to make it easy for campaigns, candidates and citizens to share the information with friends, family and supporters,” Mollis said in a statement. “Government belongs to the people. The more they know, the better they will be served.”
State law requires the Secretary of State’s office to publish and mail the handbook to every residential household in Rhode Island prior to every general election. The mailing is timed to beat the Oct. 7 deadline for current voters who have moved or changed their name recently to re-register as required by state law. Oct. 7 is also the deadline to register to vote in Rhode Island for the first time.
November’s ballot will include races for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives as well as many General Assembly seats and local offices. In addition, there will be two questions that would amend the state constitution to allow an expansion of gaming at Twin River and Newport Grand and five bond issues authorizing the sale of $209 million in bonds for uses including affordable housing, clean water, the environment, higher education and the construction of a new Veterans’ Home and renovations to existing facilities.
Because many cities and towns have moved their polling places, the handbook also outlines how voters can confirm the location of their polling place ahead of time.
Beginning this year, voters will be asked to show an ID when they vote at the polls. The guide includes a list of IDs that will be accepted at the polls and describes how to vote using a provisional ballot.
Voter ID will be phased in over two election cycles. This year, voters can also use a variety of non-photo Ids, including a Social Security card, bank statement or any government-issued document. Beginning in 2014, only photo IDs will be accepted.
Most importantly, no eligible voter will be denied the right to vote. Voters who do not bring an acceptable ID to the polls can vote using a standard Provisional Ballot. If the signature they give at their polling place matches the signature on their voter registration, their ballot will be counted.
Voters who do not already have an acceptable photo ID can obtain a free one at the Secretary of State's Elections Division, 148 West River St., Providence, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or at locations throughout Rhode Island. Check sos.ri.gov for the complete schedule.
In order to obtain a free photo ID, voters must bring proof of identity such as a Social Security card, credit or debit card, utility bill or any government-issued document. The ID, which includes a color photo of the voter and the voter's full name, will be created on the spot.