Rhode Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis has released a 32-page guide that spells out all the steps voters and Rhode Islanders who plan to run for delegate to the Democratic or Republican National Conventions must take leading up to the state’s April 24 presidential primary.
“Ensuring our elections are accessible to Rhode Islanders who vote and Rhode Islanders who wish to serve is one of my priorities. Government belongs to the people. The more they know, the better they will be served,” Mollis said in a statement.
At the same time that Rhode Islanders vote for a presidential candidate in the primary, they will elect delegates to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Rhode Islanders who want to be a delegate must register to vote by Jan. 24.
The next big deadline is Feb. 22 and 23, when anyone thinking for running for delegate must file an official “Declaration of Candidacy” with the Secretary of State’s office. They then have until Feb. 28 to collect the signatures of at least 150 eligible voters in order to qualify to appear on the ballot.
The “2012 Presidential Primary” guide and all the necessary forms for registering to vote and running for office are posted on the Secretary of State’s website at sos.ri.gov.
Mollis also added a web page that enables the public to track the progress that candidates are making toward getting their names on the ballot.
“You will be able to see who has filed to run and how many signatures they have submitted as well as the number of signatures that have been certified toward getting on our ballot,” he said.
Presidential candidates have until Feb. 2 to collect the signatures of at least 1,000 eligible Rhode Island voters in order to qualify to appear on the ballot.
Rhode Islanders must register to vote by March 24 in order to cast a ballot in the April 24 presidential primary. April 3 is the deadline to apply for a mail ballot.
This will be the first election to take place since the state’s new Voter ID law passed. Beginning this year, poll workers will ask voters to show a current and valid ID. A wide range of IDs will be accepted, including a Rhode Island driver’s license, college ID, passport and Social Security card.
“No eligible voter will be turned away at the polls. Anyone who does not bring an ID can vote using a standard provisional ballot. If the signature they give matches the one on their voter registration, their vote will be counted,” said Mollis.
Although photo IDs will not be required until 2014, the Secretary of State’s office will provide free photo IDs to eligible voters who lack one.
The Republican National Convention is scheduled for Aug. 27-30 in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Democrats are scheduled to meet in Charlotte, N.C. the week of Sept. 3.
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 state's voter registration database and distributes handbooks that explain how to run for office, how to register to vote and how to vote.
For more information the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov.