PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island voters will go to polls on a familiar schedule later this year when they choose a successor to outgoing Congressman David Cicilline.

Gov. Dan McKee and Secretary of State Gregg Amore announced Wednesday the special primary for Cicilline’s seat will tentatively be held on Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day. The special election will follow on Nov. 7, in line with a standard election year.

There will be three weeks of early voting before both the primary and the general election.

The calendar is contingent on Cicilline’s planned resignation on June 1 and the official “writ of election” issued by McKee.

“Voting is the hallmark of our democracy, and our goal is to make it as understandable as possible for both candidates and voters to ensure the highest turnout possible,” McKee said in a statement.

“Together with the Secretary of State’s Office and the Board of Elections, my team is committed to ensuring that Rhode Islanders are aware of this special election and engaged in the process,” he added. “Members of Congress play key roles in ensuring that Rhode Island is represented in Washington, D.C. and we want to ensure Rhode Islanders are participating in selecting their next representative.”

The September primary could be the more important of the two dates in the heavily Democratic 1st Congressional District, with the winner of the party’s primary strongly favored to win in November. The schedule sets up a busy summer of campaigning for the candidates.

Cicilline’s surprise resignation — which will take effect June 1, when he becomes president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation — has created Rhode Island’s second open U.S. House seat in as many years, an unusual turn of events in a state where members of Congress usually stay put for years.

A number of Democrats have launched campaigns for the 1st District seat so far, including Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos and state Sen. Sandra Cano. Providence City Councilman John Goncalves, former Raimondo administration official Nick Autiello, state Rep. Nathan Biah, former Republican candidate Allen Waters, and political newcomer Mickeda Barnes have also announced candidacies.

But a long list of others are weighing whether to get into the race after House Speaker Joe Shekarchi and former gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes both took a pass.

The declaration period for candidates will be June 29 and 30, according to the secretary of state.

The winner of the special election will serve in the House of Representatives for the remainder of Cicilline’s current two-year term, and will be up for re-election again in the fall of 2024.

Here’s the proposed special election calendar, according to the secretary of state:

  • May 31, 2023: Potential candidates must be registered to vote in Rhode Island; deadline for candidates to disaffiliate from their political party to run as a candidate from another party
  • June 29-30, 2023: Candidate declaration period
  • No later than July 6, 2023: Nomination paper signing period begins
  • July 14, 2023: Deadline for candidates to submit nomination papers to the local Board of Canvassers (4 p.m.)
  • August 6, 2023: Voter registration deadline for the primary
  • August 15, 2023: Mail ballot application deadline for the primary
  • August 16 – September 5, 2023: Early voting period for the primary
  • September 5, 2023: Special primary
  • October 8, 2023: Voter registration deadline for the special election
  • October 17, 2023: Mail ballot application deadline for the special election
  • October 18 – November 6, 2023: Early voting period for the special election
  • November 7, 2023: Special election

Ted Nesi ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Threads, Twitter and Facebook.