“You should be prepared for the changes you will encounter at the polls. From Voter ID to the location of your polling place and the hours it will be open, a lot will be different,” said Mollis.
Because many cities and towns have new polling places due to redistricting, Mollis urges voters to use his website at sos.ri.gov to confirm where they will vote. They can also see a sample of the ballot they will use, make sure their voter registration information is accurate and check the list of IDs that poll workers will accept.
“All that help is available with just a few clicks of your mouse. Checking ahead of time will help you avoid problems when you go to the polls,” Mollis said.
The election, which will include the presidential race, contests for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and many General Assembly seats and local offices, is also the next big text of the state’s new Voter ID law.
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.
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 in order to comply with the state’s law, Friday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Crescent Park Manor, 243 Crescent View Ave.
The event is open to the public. This will be the last chance to obtain the special Voter ID in East Providence before Election Day.
Voter IDs are also available at the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, 148 West River St., Providence, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Complete details are posted on the Secretary of State’s website at sos.ri.gov.
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.
Locally, polls will open at 7 a.m. and will now close at 8 p.m., which is an hour earlier than previous years. Any eligible voter in line when the doors close at 8 p.m. will be allowed to cast a ballot. Voters are allowed to bring a marked sample ballot or other material that will help them in the voting booth.
If your name is not on the voter registration list at the polling place and you believe that you are legally registered to vote in that precinct, you are eligible to vote a provisional ballot, which will be counted if elections officials determine that your claim is valid.
There is good news for people who unexpectedly find they will be unable to vote at their polling place on Election Day. They can go to City Hall through Nov. 5 and vote using an emergency ballot.
Anyone who missed the Oct. 7 deadline to register to vote can still cast a ballot on Election Day, but only for president and vice president and only at City Hall.
The Secretary of State’s office prepares the ballots for all 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.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote, making it easier to do business in Rhode Island and making government more open and accessible. For more information about this year’s elections, visit sos.ri.gov or call (401) 222-2340.