PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Secretary of State's office will provide free photo IDs to voters who need one in order to comply with the state's new Voter ID law Wed., Oct. 24, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Community College of R.I.'s Newport campus.
"The pervasive belief that identity theft occurs at the polls undermines the public's confidence in the integrity of our elections. An ID is required for opening a bank account or getting a library card. Doesn't the right to vote deserve at least as much protection," said Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
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. Voters who already have an acceptable photo ID do not need the special Voter ID.
To obtain a free Voter 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 document. Beginning in 2014, only photo ID 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.
Voters who miss the Newport stop 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.
In addition to Voter ID, Mollis is reminding voters that they will encounter other changes at the polls this year including new polling place locations and a new closing time for polls statewide.
Because many cities and towns have had to change their polling places due to redistricting, Mollis urges voters to use sos.ri.gov to confirm the location of their polling place ahead of time. Thanks to a recent change in state law, polls will close at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than in past years.
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.