PROVIDENCE, RI -- The campaign to implement the state's new Voter ID law will stop in Newport this Thursday when the Secretary of State's office sets up shop in City Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Secretary of State's office will provide free IDs to registered voters who do not already have an acceptable photo ID including a R.I. driver's license, U.S. passport, college ID, U.S. military ID, government-issued medical card or state- or federal-issued ID like a RIPTA bus pass.
In order to obtain a Voter ID, registered 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 as it appears in the state's voter registration database, will be created on the spot.
"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 Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
If voters miss the stop in Newport, they can obtain a Voter ID locally at Jamestown Town Hall March 8 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. or the Middletown Senior Center March 16 from 10 a.m. to noon. Here is the schedule of locations.
For most voters, the first test of the new law will be the state's April 24 presidential primary. They will now be asked to show a current and valid ID when they vote at their polling place. Mail ballots do not require ID.
"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.
Voter ID will be phased in over two election cycles. In 2012 and 2013, voters can also use a variety of non-photo IDs including a RIte Care or social security card. Beginning in 2014, photo ID will be required.
Eligible voters who do not bring an acceptable ID to the polls will not be turned away. They 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.
"No one will be denied the opportunity to vote," said Mollis.
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 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 the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293