PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is reminding Rhode Islanders that they have until Sat., March 24, to register to vote in the April 24 presidential primary.
Although the deadline falls on a Saturday, Mollis will open his office at 148 West River St., Providence, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Every city and town also has made local arrangements for residents to register at the last minute.
In addition to targeting first-time voters, the special Saturday schedule enables voters who have moved or changed their names since they last time they voted to update their information as required by state law.
"Four years ago voters turned out in record numbers. We are working with every city and town to ensure that everyone who is interested in registering knows where to go and what to do in order to register before the deadline," said Mollis.
State law requires voters to be registered at least 30 days prior to an election. In order to register to vote, you must be at least 18 years old by Nov. 6, a U.S. citizen and a resident of Rhode Island.
"If you are not sure whether you are already registered to vote or whether your voter registration information is up to date, use our Voter Information Center to check," said Mollis.
Rhode Islanders can also download a voter registration form. In order to make the deadline, the original, signed form must be received by the applicant's local board of canvassers by March 24.
Barack Obama will be the only candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination on the ballot. The Republican ballot will feature Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. In addition, nearly 120 Rhode Islanders are running to be a delegate at the Democratic or Republican National Convention.
The April 24 presidential primary will be the first test of the state's new Voter ID law for most voters. For the first time, poll workers will ask voters to show ID when they vote. 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.
The Secretary of State's office will provide a free ID to voters who do not already have an acceptable photo ID such as a R.I. driver's license, college ID, U.S. passport or RIPTA bus pass. Here is a list of times and locations where voters can obtain an ID.
In order to obtain one of the new state-issued IDs, voters must provide proof of identity such as a social security card, credit or debit card, utility bill or government-issued document.
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 social security or Medicare card. Beginning in 2014, only photo IDs will be accepted.
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 eligible voter will be denied the right to vote at the polls," said Mollis.
The Secretary of State prepares the ballots for all federal, state and municipal elections held in Rhode Island. In addition, the office maintains the statewide voter registration list, encourages voter participation 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 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