For more information, visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.
Last Updated: October 2020
Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day. The only exception is New Shoreham (Block Island), where the polls must be open from 9:00 a.m. (12 p.m. for presidential primaries) to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Burrillville, Charleston, Hopkinton, Jamestown, Richmond and Westerly open at 9:00 am in special elections, and Little Compton opens at 8:00 am for special elections.
In the 20 days leading up to Election Day, voters can vote in person at his/her local board of canvassers at his/her city or town hall during their regular business hours. The early voting period for the November 2020 General Election is October 14 – November 2.
How to Find Your Polling Place:
Visit the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s polling place locator.
Registration Deadlines: You must register 30 days prior to the General Election. The deadline for this year’s General Election is Sunday, October 4.
In Presidential elections, however, non-registered eligible voters can still register and vote only for President and Vice-President on the day of the election at their local Board of Canvassers. A list of local Board locations can be found here.
How to Check Your Registration: Use Rhode Island’s Registrant Search or call 866-OUR-VOTE.
Registration Eligibility: In order to be eligible to register and vote in Rhode Island, you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States;
- Reside in Rhode Island;
- Be at least 16 years old on or before Election Day (you must be at least 18 years of age to vote on Election Day);
- Not be incarcerated in a correctional facility due to a felony conviction;
- Not be presently judged mentally incompetent to vote by a court.
There is no duration of residence requirement in Rhode Island; you may register the first day that you move to the state. However, you cannot vote for local candidates or issues until you have been registered at that address for 30 days.
How to Register: If eligible, you will automatically be registered to vote when you interact with the DMV. Rhode Island residents may register online, by mail, or in person.
Visit the Secretary of State’s online voter registration website. You will need a Rhode Island driver’s license or state ID.
In order to register by mail, you must obtain a mail-in registration form by:
- Downloading a mail-in form from the Secretary of State’s website;
- Picking up a form at your local board of canvassers, Rhode Island DMV office, or any state agency that provides public assistance or services to persons with disabilities;
- Picking up a form at a college or university, public school, library, or armed forces recruitment office.
Once you complete the form, you can mail it to your local Board of Canvassers.
You may register to vote in person in the following ways:
- When making a transaction at the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles; or
- At the Board of Canvassers located at the county seat in your county of residence.
Identification Required for Registration
Voters who are registering to vote for the first time in Rhode Island by mail may provide their Rhode Island driver’s license or ID Number, or the last 4 digits of their social security number, if available. Identification can be presented at the polls if the applicant does not include it with the initial application.
If You Want to Vote Early
In the 20 days leading up to Election Day, voters can vote in person at his/her local board of canvassers at his/her city or town hall during their regular business hours. Early voting period for the November 2020 General Election is October 14 – November 2, 2020.
If You Want to Vote Absentee
For 2020, the Rhode Island Secretary of State has encouraged all Rhode Island voters to apply for a mail ballot and vote safely from home.
A voter can get an application for a mail (absentee) ballot at the local Board, call the local board of canvassers to send an application or download one from the Secretary of State’s Website (https://elections.ri.gov/voting/applymail.php)
Emergency Voting: Applications can be made after the absentee deadline if circumstances arise within 20 days of the election which prevent a voter from going to the polls on Election Day. A voter should contact his or her local board of canvassers.
Rules and Deadlines:
- An absentee ballot application must be turned in to the local Board no later than 4:00 p.m., 21 days before the election. For the 2020 Election, this deadline is 4:00 p.m. on October 13, 2020.
- An emergency mail ballot application must be turned in to the local Board no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the election;
- All mail ballots, including emergency mail ballots, must be received by the State Board of Elections by 8:00 p.m. the night of the election.
Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot
A voter must provide valid photo identification at the polling place in order to vote a regular ballot. Valid forms of ID are:
- Valid Rhode Island Driver’s License/permit;
- Valid Rhode Island Photo Voter ID Card (can be obtained for free);
- Valid Federally or Rhode Island State issued ID;
- Valid ID issued by any federally recognized tribal government ID;
- Valid U.S. passport;
- Valid ID card issued by a U.S. educational institution, provided it includes a photo;
- Valid Military ID card containing a photo; and
- Valid government issued medical card.
The address on the photo identification does not have to match the address on the voter rolls.
Without one of these forms of identification, a voter is permitted to vote with a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot will be counted if the local Board determines that the signature on the provisional ballot matches the signature on the voter’s registration, or if the voter presents acceptable identification to the local Board by 4:00 p.m. the day after the election.
A voter who is a member of the military or who resides overseas is eligible to vote by absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), and is not required to provide ID when voting with an absentee ballot.
If you moved to your current residence less than 30 days before the election, you can vote at the polling place for your former address.
You may update your address on your voter registration record if the election is more than 30 days away. This may be done by submitting a new voter registration form, which can be done online or with a paper form found on the Secretary of State’s website. If you do not update your address before the deadline, the following rules apply:
Moving to a Different District Within The Same City Or Town
If you moved to a different district in the same city or town, you can vote at the polling place of your new address or at the local Board upon completion of an affirmation recording your change of address.
Moving to a Different City or Town If you moved from another city or town within Rhode Island more than 30 days, but less than 6 months, prior to the election, you can vote with a limited ballot at the polling place in your previous city or town of registration.
If you moved from another city or town within Rhode Island 6 months or more before the election, you are only eligible to vote for President and Vice-President during a presidential election. You can do this at your local Board of Canvassers in your current city or town on Election Day.
Rhode Island military/overseas voters use a special process to receive and return their mail ballot. The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) provides step-by-step guidance on how a military/overseas voter can apply for and receive their mail ballot.
Military and other overseas citizens may use the standard procedure for absentee voting by mail, but there are also special provisions for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Merchant Marine, Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with family members of all these groups, and other citizens who reside outside the United States (together these groups are called UOCAVA voters).
Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot
UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP): Rhode Island specific FVAP page.
UOCAVA voters may also register to vote and request an absentee ballot by calling 800-274-VOTE (8683).
Receiving an Absentee Ballot
Military and overseas citizens can send and receive voting materials by fax and email. If the voter wishes to use the fax or email options, s/he must indicate this on her/his FPCA. If the voter chooses to receive a ballot by fax, s/he must submit the request, along with her/his fax number, by 4:00 p.m. at least 21 days before the election. All ballots must be received by the State Board of Elections by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Instructions for doing so are found on the FVAP’s Rhode Island specific FPCA page.
Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot
The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters.
In order to use the FWAB, the voter must be registered to vote and have already requested an absentee ballot at least 21 days before the election. The voter can use this FWAB whether located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that the voter is away from her/his voting residence for service-related activities. The voter’s FWAB must be received by her/his local voting officials in Rhode Island no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s Rhode Island specific FAWB page.
A resident of Rhode Island who has been convicted of a felony and is currently incarcerated may not vote in Rhode Island elections. However, voting rights are restored to all Rhode Island residents who have been released from incarceration or who were never incarcerated following felony convictions.
Documents are being updated.