PROVIDENCE, RI -- Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is reminding Rhode Islanders who are thinking about running for office that they must make it official before the end of June. Candidates have from June 25-27 to file a Declaration of Candidacy in order to be eligible to appear on this year's ballot.
That deadline is just one of the milestones included in "How to Run for Office," a free guide that outlines the key steps candidates must take in contests for everything from school committee to U.S. Senate.
"There is no more important undertaking than assuring that our elections are accessible to those who wish to serve. Our guide contains all the information you need in order to seek public office this year," said Mollis.
Candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and electors for independent presidential candidates must file their Declaration of Candidacy with the Secretary of State's office. Voters who plan to run for the General Assembly or municipal office must file with the board of canvassers in the city or town where they are registered to vote.
The next important step occurs from July 3 through July 13, when candidates must collect the signatures of enough eligible voters to officially put them on the ballot. The thresholds range from 50 signatures for some municipal offices to 1,000 signatures for U.S. Senate.
"How to Run for Office" even outlines campaign finance requirements – including the July 31 deadline for candidates for state and local office to submit financial disclosure reports – and lists contact information for election officials in every city and town.
The 30-page guide is posted on the Secretary of State's website at sos.ri.gov along with other key documents such as the Declaration of Candidacy form.
"This strategy not only saves Rhode Islanders the cost of printing thousands of copies of the guide, it also makes it easy for citizens and candidates to share links with constituents, friends and supporters," said Mollis.
This year there will be contests for many municipal offices, General Assembly, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The statewide primary is Sept. 11 and the general election is Nov. 6.
"How to Run for Office" also includes information about the state's new Voter ID law. Beginning this year, 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 Secretary of State's office will provide free IDs to voters who do not already have an acceptable photo ID. They can be obtained at the Secretary of State's Elections Division, 148 West River St., Providence, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition, a schedule of other locations where voters can obtain an ID is posted at sos.ri.gov.
In order to obtain an 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, 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, utility bill, bank statement or any government-issued medical card. Beginning in 2014, only photo IDs will be accepted.
Most importantly, no eligible voter will be denied the right to vote. Voters who do not bring an acceptable ID to the polls 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.