PROVIDENCE, RI -- Rhode Islanders who want to be a delegate at this summer's Democratic or Republican presidential conventions can begin officially filing to run this Wednesday, Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis announced today.
Candidates for delegate must file official "Declaration of Candidacy" and "Pledge of Support" forms with the Secretary of State's office on Feb. 22 or 23. 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 for the April 24 presidential primary.
Those milestones are among many included in a 32-page guide to Rhode Island's presidential primary that Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis prepared. It spells out the steps that voters and candidates 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," said Mollis.
Candidates must choose to run as a delegate for one of the presidential candidates who will be on Rhode Island's ballot or as uncommitted. Barack Obama will be the only candidate on the Democratic ballot. On the Republican side, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum will be on the ballot.
The public can follow who has filed to run for delegate and the progress they are making achieving the 150-signature threshold on on the Secretary of State's website. The Declaration of Candidacy and Pledge of Support forms for delegates are also posted there.
"This strategy saves Rhode Islanders the cost of printing thousands of guides and forms and makes it easier for political parties, citizens and candidates to share links with their constituents, friends and supporters," said Mollis.
The Republican National Convention is scheduled for Aug. 27-30 in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Democrats are scheduled to meet in Charlotte, NC, the week of Sept. 3.
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.
For most voters, the presidential primary will be the first test of the state's new Voter ID law. Beginning this year, poll workers will ask voters to show a current and valid ID at the polls. A wide range of IDs will be accepted including a R.I. driver's license, college ID, passport and social security card.
"The perception that identity theft could occur at the polls weakens the public's faith in the integrity of our elections. Voting should be at least as secure as everyday tasks like renting a car or getting a library card that routinely require ID," said Mollis.
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 ballot will be counted.
Although photo IDs will not be required until 2014, the Secretary of State's office will provide free photo IDs to registered voters who lack one. Here is the list of locations where voters can obtain an 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 state's voter registration database and creates guides to running for office and voting.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier to vote, making it easier to do business in Rhode Island and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293