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Secretary of State Mollis Advises Primary Voters to Prepare for Changes at the Polls

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is offering voters some advice to help make their trip to the polls go as smoothly as possible on Sept. 11.

"From Voter ID to their assigned polling place and the hours it will be open, voters will find some changes this year," said Mollis

To avoid problems, Mollis urges voters to visit his website at sos.ri.gov to confirm the location of their polling place, make sure their voter registration information is accurate, and check the list of IDs that poll workers will accept.

"All that information is available with just a few clicks of your mouse. Checking ahead of time will help avoid problems when you go to the polls on Sept. 11," Mollis said.

The primary, which includes Democratic and Republican contests for the U.S. House of Representatives as well as 40 General Assembly seats and local offices in many municipalities, is also the next test of 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 photo IDs including a R.I. driver's license, state ID card, RIPTA bus pass, college ID and employee ID.

Voter ID will be phased in over two election cycles. This year, voters can also use a variety of non-photo IDs including a Social Security card, bank statement or any government-issued document. 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.

In addition to new polling places and Voter ID, voters will encounter at least one more difference. Polling places will now close an hour earlier at 8 p.m. thanks to a recent change in state law. Polls will open at 7 a.m. in most municipalities.

Any eligible voter in line when the doors close at 8 p.m. will be allowed to cast a ballot. Voters will be allowed to bring a marked sample ballot or other material that will help them in the voting booth.

If your name is not on the voter registration list at the polling place and you believe that you are legally registered to vote in that precinct, you are eligible to vote a provisional ballot, which will be counted if elections officials determine that your claim is valid.

There is good news for people who unexpectedly will be unable to vote at their polling place on the day of the primary. They can go to their city or town hall through Mon., Sept. 10, and request an emergency ballot.

Voters who do not already have an acceptable photo ID can obtain a free one at the Secretary of State's Elections Division, 148 West River St., Providence, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or at locations throughout Rhode Island. Check sos.ri.gov for the complete schedule.

In order to obtain a free photo ID, voters must bring proof of identity such as a Social Security card, credit or debit card, utility bill or any 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.

The Secretary of State's office prepares the ballots for all 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 this year's elections, visit sos.ri.gov or call (401) 222-2340.

MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett -- 222-4293

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Related links

Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State

Online: http://www.sos.ri.gov/

Release date: 09-08-2012

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