Voters who need a photo ID in order to comply with the state's new Voter ID law can get a free one from the Secretary of State's Office Wednesday, Aug. 29 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Shalom Apartments, 1 Shalom Dr. in Warwick.
Beginning this year, voters will be asked to show an ID when they vote at the polls. Poll workers will accept a wide range of common photo IDs, including a R.I. driver's license, state ID card, RIPTA bus pass, college ID and employee ID. Voters who already have an acceptable photo ID do not need the special Voter ID.
"The public's faith in the outcome of our elections is undermined by the belief that fraud occurs at the polls. Addressing this concern restores their confidence and encourages them to make their voices heard," Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis said in a statement.
To obtain a free Voter ID, voters must bring proof of identity such as a Social Security card, credit or debit card, utility bill or 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.
In addition to a complete list of acceptable IDs and proofs of identity, the schedule of dates and locations where voters can obtain a free ID is posted on the Secretary of State’s website at sos.ri.gov.
The primary on Sept. 11 will be the next test of Voter ID. The initiative has rolled out smoothly so far this year. Through the presidential primary and two special municipal elections, no problems at the polls have been reported to the Secretary of State's Office.
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 a photo ID will be accepted.
"Photo ID ensures that poll workers can match a face to the name that voters give them when they obtain their ballots at the polls. The simple act of asking for ID protects the rights of every voter," said Mollis.
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.
Voter ID law is being rolled out at the same time as the state's new no-excuse mail ballots. Thanks to a change in state law, voters no longer have to be hospitalized, out-of-state or living in a nursing home in order to vote by mail. Mail ballots do not require ID.
The Secretary of State's Office prepares the ballots for all federal, state and municipal elections held in Rhode Island. In addition, the office maintains the statewide voter registration list, promotes voter registration and turnout, and creates guides to running for office and voting.
For more information about the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov.