PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis wants voters to be on the look-out for the first of hundreds of thousands of election guides that should start arriving in mailboxes all over Rhode Island on Monday.
The 32-page guide includes descriptions of every statewide ballot question and bond issue as well as information about the state's new Voter ID law, special accommodations for voters who are elderly, disabled or visually impaired and changes in the location of polling places due to redistricting.
"The guide is posted on our website to make it easy for campaigns, candidates and citizens to share the information with friends, family and supporters," said Mollis. "Government belongs to the people. The more they know, the better they will be served."
State law requires the Secretary of State's office to publish and mail the handbook to every residential household in Rhode Island prior to every general election. The mailing is timed to beat the Oct. 7 deadline for current voters who have moved or changed their name recently to re-register as required by state law. Oct. 7 is also the deadline to register to vote in Rhode Island for the first time.
November's ballot will include races for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives as well as many General Assembly seats and local offices. In addition, there will be two questions that would amend the state constitution to allow an expansion of gaming at Twin River and Newport Grand and five bond issues authorizing the sale of $209 million in bonds for uses including affordable housing, clean water, the environment, higher education and the construction of a new Veterans' Home and renovations to existing facilities.
Because many cities and towns have moved their polling places, the handbook also outlines how voters can confirm the location of their polling place ahead of time.
Beginning this year, voters will also 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, RIPTA bus pass and employee ID. The guide includes a complete list of IDs that will be accepted at the polls.
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.
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.
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 at 222-4293.