Commonly asked questions on voting in the general election

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ELECTION 2020 //
Voter Guide: What you need to know »

Whether you plan to vote in person or by mail in the upcoming election, you may have some questions or concerns about the process.

Below, 12 News has compiled some examples along with the answers and links to more information.

Have a question we didn’t cover? Rhode Island voters can call 211 or go to vote.ri.gov. Massachusetts voters can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) or contact their local election office.

Can I still register to vote?

The deadline to register to vote in Rhode Island was October 4. If you missed the deadline, same-day registration will be available at your polling place on Election Day, but you would only be able to vote in the presidential race.

In Massachusetts, the deadline to register to vote is October 24. You can register online, by mail, or in person at any city or town hall.

How do I apply for a mail ballot?

The deadline to submit a mail ballot application in Rhode Island was Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Massachusetts has an online mail-in ballot application system, a printable vote-by-mail application, and the application can also be picked up at your local election office. The state recommends putting your application in the mail no later than October 20. Applications received after October 28 will not be accepted.

Can mail ballots be trusted?

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea told 12 News she was confident that voting from home is a secure option and if you’re an eligible voter, your ballot will be counted.

“Rhode Islanders can absolutely trust the integrity of our elections system,” she assured.

In response to concerns about voter fraud, she said the Board of Elections has precautions in place such as double signature verification to ensure someone doesn’t vote under a different name.

Voters are also being urged to mail their ballots back early, or to put them in a designated dropbox, to ensure they arrive by the 8 p.m. deadline on Election Day.

If I see potential voter fraud or suppression, how do I report it?

In 2018, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island established an election fraud and voting rights abuse hotline. To file a report, contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (401) 709-5068 or the local FBI field office at (401) 272-8310.

In Massachusetts, you can report fraud on the state’s website. Complaints can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, D.C. by phone at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by fax at (2020) 307-3961, or by email at voting.section@usdoj.gov  or through their online complaint form.

If I’m registered at a previous address, will my mail ballot be sent there?

In Rhode Island, if your address isn’t accurate, you can update it at vote.ri.gov. You should also contact your local board of canvassers to ensure you are eligible to apply for a mail ballot from your new address for the next election.

In Massachusetts, if the deadline to register to vote hasn’t passed, then you should register at the new address. Otherwise, if you’ve moved within the same city/town or within six months of the election, you can register with your old address and have the mail ballot sent to the new address.

What if I need help filling out my mail ballot?

In Rhode Island, anyone applying for a mail ballot from a nursing home or similar facility will have their ballot delivered by a bipartisan pair of supervisors appointed by the State Board of Elections. Contact your local board of canvassers if you need help with your ballot.

If you’re in Massachusetts and need assistance, you can ask any other person to assist you in marking your ballot. If you cannot sign you name, the person assisting can sign in the space provided for the voter’s signature and then provide their own info in the space provided for the assisting person. If accommodation is needed because of a physical disability, you may apply to the Elections Division.

If I received a mail ballot but wasn’t able to return it in time, can I still vote?

Yes. Mail ballots can be filled out and left in secure dropboxes at polling places and city/town halls.

Find my Polling Place: Rhode Island » | Massachusetts »
Dropbox Locations: Rhode Island » | Massachusetts »

If I apply for a mail ballot but don’t submit it, can I still vote in person?

The state of Rhode Island asks that if you apply for a mail ballot, you complete the process by mail. If you attempt to vote in person, you will be required to use a provisional ballot so election officials can determine if you have already cast a mail ballot.

For Massachusetts residents, as long as you haven’t voted by mail, you can still vote in person at your polling location. You can also vote in person if you mail your ballot and it does not reach your election office by Election Day or if your mail-in ballot is rejected for any reason.

What if I make a mistake on my mail ballot?

Order another mail ballot in Rhode Island by contacting the Elections Division at (401) 222-2340 or via email elections@sos.ri.gov.

Massachusetts voters should contact their local election office.

How do I know my mail ballot was received?

Rhode Island voters can track their ballot’s progress by logging into their voter record.

Massachusetts voters can track their ballot at www.TrackMyBallotMA.com.

How do I vote early in person?

The early voting period in Rhode Island is from October 14 to November 2. Find where you can vote early at your local board of canvassers located in your city/town hall.

Early in-person voting in Massachusetts will take place from October 17 through October 30. Schedules and locations for each city and town will be posted at www.MassEarlyVote.com no later than October 9, according to the state’s website.

What will be on the ballot?

Preview the Rhode Island ballot on the Board of Elections website.

View more information on the Massachusetts ballot questions on the secretary of state’s website.

I didn’t apply for a mail ballot but now have to quarantine and can’t vote in person, what do I do?

Rhode Island voters can request an emergency mail ballot from their local board of canvassers. An emergency mail ballot must be received by the Board of Elections by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

If a Massachusetts resident has been instructed to quarantine within one week of the election, they may use the absentee ballot application to designate someone to deliver a ballot to them. This person will need to bring the signed application to your local election office, pick up your absentee ballot, bring it to you and return it by the close of polls on Election Day. Emergency ballots can be requested until the polls close.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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