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Secretary of State Mollis Invites Public to Lottery for Presidential Primary Ballot Placement

In preparation for Rhode Island's own version of Super Tuesday, Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is inviting the public to a lottery Wed., March 7, at 5 p.m. in the State Room of the State House.

Mollis will use equipment borrowed from the R.I. Lottery to determine the order in which the candidates for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations will appear on the ballot in the state's April 24 primary.

In a scene familiar to Rhode Islanders who watch the state's daily lottery numbers selected on television, candidates will be assigned numbered, specially calibrated, white plastic balls. A representative from the R.I. Lottery will operate the equipment. After each ball floats to the top of the machine, Mollis will announce where the corresponding candidate's name will appear on the ballot.

Barack Obama will compete with "Uncommitted" for the top spot on the Democratic presidential primary ballot. Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum will compete with "Uncommitted" for ballot position on the Republican ballot.

The Secretary of State's office will also use the lottery machine to determine ballot position for the 119 Rhode Islanders who are running for the right to attend the Democratic or Republican National Convention as a delegate.

Rhode Islanders must register to vote by March 24 in order to cast a ballot in the presidential primary. April 3 is the deadline to apply for a mail ballot.

The April 24 presidential primary will be the first test of the state's new Voter ID law for most voters. Voters will be asked to show ID when they vote at their polling place.

"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.

The Secretary of State's office is providing free IDs to registered voters who do not already have an acceptable photo ID like a R.I. driver's license, U.S. passport, an ID card issued by an U.S. educational institution, U.S. military ID, State of RI or U.S. government-issued ID or government-issued medical card.

This week's stops include the Mathieu Senior Center in Pawtucket March 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the North Kingstown Senior Center March 8 from 10 a.m. to noon, Jamestown Town Hall March 8 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the Cranston Senior Center March 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Here is the complete schedule of dates and locations.

In order to obtain one of the new state-issued IDs, voters must bring proof of identity such as a social security card, credit or debit card, utility bill or government-issued document.

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 use a variety of non-IDs including a RIte Care or social security card if they do not have an acceptable photo ID. Beginning in 2014, poll workers will accept only photo IDs including a R.I. driver's license, college ID or U.S. passport.

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 eligible voter will be denied the right to cast a ballot at the polls," 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

MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293


Related links

  • Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State
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  • Release date: 03-06-2012

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