Normally around this time of year, 12 News would be telling you how “voters will be heading to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to cast their ballots in the general election.”
While that’s still true, the overall process will be different this year with more people than ever choosing to vote ahead of Election Day — many by mail — as a result of the pandemic.
Below, you’ll find all of the information you need, no matter how you plan to cast your vote.
October 4: Deadline to register to vote October 13: Mail ballot applications must be in October 14-November 2: Early voting period (hours may vary by location) October 27: Recommended deadline to get ballot in the mail
- November 3: Election Day; mail ballots must be received by 8 p.m.
October 17-30: Early voting (hours may vary by location) October 24: Deadline to register to vote October 28: Deadline to request a mail ballot (officials suggest mailing application by October 20)
- November 3: Election Day; mail ballots must be postmarked by this day and received by November 6
Ways to Vote
Once your mail ballot has been requested and received, you can fill it out at home then send it to the Board of Elections by post.
Track My Ballot: Rhode Island » | Massachusetts »
If you don’t get your ballot in the mail in time, they can be placed in secure dropboxes located at polling places and city/town halls.
Dropbox Locations: Rhode Island » | Massachusetts »
Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts have early voting periods in which residents can cast their ballots in person, ahead of Election Day.
More Information: Rhode Island » | Massachusetts »
On Election Day
As usual, voters who want to cast their ballot in person on Nov. 3 can do so from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, voters are advised to check the location of their polling place ahead of time, as it may have changed since the last election, and should be prepared to follow COVID-19 safety protocols.
Find My Polling Place: Rhode Island » | Massachusetts »
In Rhode Island, voters can learn more about voting by calling 211 or visiting vote.ri.gov.
In Massachusetts, voters can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) or visit sec.state.ma.us/ele.
Key Local Races
Obviously, the presidential race between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will be top of mind for voters. But since Rhode Island and Massachusetts aren’t swing states, here’s a look at some of the legislative and mayoral contests to watch.
RI US Senate: Jack Reed (D) vs. Allen Waters (R)
Reed, a Democrat who’s been in office since 1996, is seeking another six-year term and faces a challenge from Allen Waters, a Republican. (Waters lost the support of the state GOP after it was learned he was involved in a domestic disturbance last year.)
RI US House: Jim Langevin (D) vs. Robert Lancia (R)
In Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, Langevin is looking to continue his 20-year tenure in the House as he faces off with former state Rep. Robert Lancia.
Cranston Mayor: Maria Bucci (D) vs. Ken Hopkins (R)
With Mayor Allan Fung being term-limited, this office is opening up for the first time in 12 years. Current City Councilor Ken Hopkins won the GOP nomination in the September primary, while former City Councilor Maria Bucci earned the Democratic nomination.
Central Falls Mayor: Maria Rivera vs. Joseph Moran
Mayor James Diossa is also term-limited, so this race pits City Councilor Maria Rivera, who had a strong showing in the primary, against former police Chief Joseph Moran. The race is nonpartisan.
Rhode Island General Assembly
Less than half of the 114 seats in the state legislature are being contested this year, but there are multiple competitive contests across Rhode Island.
The most closely watched race pits Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello against Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, the wife of outgoing Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. While only Cranston voters will decide the District 15 race, if Mattiello were to lose it would shake up the State House dynamic by opening up the speaker’s office for the first time since 2014.
Mass. US Senate: Ed Markey (D) vs. Kevin O’Connor (R)
After defeating Congressman Joe Kennedy III in a high-profile primary race, incumbent Sen. Ed Markey now squares off with the GOP nominee, Kevin O’Connor.
Mass. US House: Jake Auchincloss (D) vs. Julie Hall (R)
The race for Kennedy’s ouse seat in the 4th Congressional District — which includes northern Fall River, Attleboro, and Taunton — has voters choosing between Jake Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor who narrowly won the Democratic primary, and former Attleboro City Councilor Julie Hall.
With the increased use of mail ballots due to the pandemic, election officials say it may take longer than usual to release a complete count of the results in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but at least some initial results are expected to be available on the evening of Nov. 3.