PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The primary election in Rhode Island is a little more than a month away, but are you prepared to cast your ballot?
With issues and concerns on voters’ minds, it’s shaping up to be a big election year in the Ocean State.
The first key date to be aware of is Sunday, Aug. 14 — it’s the deadline to register to vote.
“If you have moved, or if you want to register to vote, you have to do it by August 14th,” Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said.
It’s also important to note that if you have voted in a prior election, you have to make sure your affiliation status is up to date.
“Once you vote in a primary, you are registered as a member of that party unless you disaffiliate as an unaffiliated voter again,” Gorbea explained. “So that’s why it’s important to verify your voter registration status.”
Once you have registered to vote and verified our status, it’s time to decide how you will vote.
If you’re not heading to the polls in person, Tuesday, Aug. 23, is the last day to request a mail ballot. Unlike two years ago, you won’t receive an application by mail but you can request one online.
Gov Dan McKee signed a bill into law earlier this year making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote. The “Let RI Vote Act” allows Rhode Islanders to apply for a mail ballot without needing an excuse for why they can’t head to their polling location on Election Day.
It also drops the requirement that mail ballots have to be signed by two witnesses or notarized. Instead, voters’ signatures will be verified using their registration record by using a four-tiered verification process.
Every municipality is also required to have at least one drop box where voters can deposit their ballots securely through the close of polls on Election Day. Additionally, nursing home residents can now opt-in to automatically receive applications for mail ballots for every election.
“I encourage anybody who is critical about making it easier for people to access the ballot box to come and speak to people in my office, go talk to the people at the Board of Elections, so that they really understand the multiple layers of security that we have built in over time,” Gorbea said.
“Technology has helped us actually keep our elections more secure,” she continued. It’s actually enabled us to make it easier for working folks, people with kids, people with complicated schedules, to be able to cast their ballot.”
If you do prefer to head to the polls and cast your ballot in person, Wednesday, Aug. 24, marks the start of early in-person voting. You can cast your vote at your registered town hall or board of canvassers through Monday, Sept. 12.
Primary Election Day is Tuesday, Sept. 13 where polls will be open statewide from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Currently, there are about 4,200 Rhode Islanders who would qualify for this upcoming election.
12 Informa: Guía traducida para prepararte para las elecciones