PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Islanders should not be surprised to find politicians asking for their autograph starting today.
The nearly 2,400 candidates who have filed to run for office have until July 13 to collect the signatures of enough eligible voters to officially put them on the ballot. The thresholds range from 50 for some municipal offices to 1,000 signatures for U.S. Senate.
"Be prepared for people running for office to knock on your door and approach you at the market," said Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
Candidates submit the signatures to local boards of canvassers, which validate them before sending them on to the Secretary of State's office, which has until July 20 to certify that candidates collected enough signatures to officially be placed on the ballot for the Sept. 11 primary and Nov. 6 election.
Many other milestones are included in a free 24-page guide that will help voters and candidates navigate this year's elections. "Election Calendar 2012" outlines crucial deadlines from registering to vote to requesting a mail ballot.
"This strategy not only saves Rhode Islanders the cost of printing thousands of copies of the guide, it also makes it easy for them to share links with friends and family," said Mollis.
The guide 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 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.
The Secretary of State's office will provide free IDs to voters who do not already have an acceptable photo ID. 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, 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.
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.
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