PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is teaming up with a prominent African-American women's organization to register voters and provide free Voter IDs on Sat., June 16, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pond Street Baptist Church, 75 Chester Ave., Providence.
The Secretary of State's office will take part in a "Know Your Voting Rights" Forum sponsored by the Greater Providence, R. I. Chapter of The Links, one of the nations's oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African-Americans.
"Voting is a critical responsibility of all citizens. We welcome the opportunity to provide this forum to the community. We strive to have a well-informed citizenry that understands the new Voter ID laws and is prepared to vote this fall as well as in the future. We thank Secretary of State Mollis and his office for joining us in this important effort," said Pearl Rezendes, National Trends and Services chairwoman of the Greater Providence chapter.
In order to register and vote, you must be at least 18 years old by Nov. 6, a resident of Rhode Island and a U.S. citizen.
"People who register to vote are more likely to become engaged and effective citizens. Some of these individuals will become our next generation of leaders. Now is the time to reach out to them," said Mollis.
Under the state's new Voter ID law, voters will be asked to show an ID when they vote at the polls. Poll workers will accept a wide range of common IDs including a R.I. driver's license, RIPTA bus pass, college ID, employee ID and U.S. passport.
"The public's confidence in the integrity of our elections is diminished by the belief that identity theft occurs at the polls. Renting a car or getting a library card require ID. The right to vote deserves at least as much protection," said Mollis.
In order to obtain a free ID, 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.
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 card, credit or debit card, bank statement or any government-issued medical card. Beginning in 2014, only photo IDs will be accepted.
"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.
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.
In addition to the event in Providence on June 16, voters can also obtain a free ID at the Secretary of State's Elections Division, 148 West River St., Providence, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The full schedule of dates and locations where voters can obtain IDs is posted on the Secretary of State's website at sos.ri.gov.
The next test of Voter ID will be the statewide primary on Sept. 11. Mail ballots do not require 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 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 the programs and services the Secretary of State offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293