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AARP AARP States Rhode Island Voters

How to Register, Vote and Track Your Ballot in Rhode Island

En español | Rhode Island allows any voter to cast a mail ballot or vote early and in person.

The first congressional district will hold a special election to replace U.S. Rep. David Cicilline on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The next statewide election is in 2024. 

Voters In Rhode Island
Stickers are passed out to voters at a polling place in Cranston.
Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Essential info:

  • Voting at the polls: A photo ID is required at your polling place. Otherwise, you’ll receive a provisional ballot. 

What do I need to know about the 2023 special election in the first congressional district?

The special election to replace U.S. Rep. David Cicilline is Tuesday, Nov. 7. The deadline to register is Sunday, Oct. 8. See below for more on how to register.

Apply for a mail ballot by Tuesday, Oct. 17 if you wish to vote by mail. See below or visit the Rhode Island secretary of state’s website for more details.

Early in-person voting begins Wednesday, Oct. 18 and runs through Election Day. For hours and locations, contact your board of canvassers.

Have there been recent changes to voting in Rhode Island?

In July 2023, Rhode Island launched an online portal for registered voters to request a mail ballot.

Under a 2022 law, all registered voters are permitted to cast a mail ballot without a reason – and the signatures of two witnesses or that of a notary on mail ballots are no longer required. The law grants residents of nursing facilities the right to be placed on a permanent mail ballot list, allowing them to automatically receive a mail ballot application each election.

AARP Rhode Island hosted a tele-town hall with Secretary of State Gregg Amore to talk about voting in the state, including how to request a mail ballot. You can watch the tele-town hall on AARP Rhode Island's Facebook page.

How do I register to vote?

Register online, by mail or in person:

  • Online: Go to Rhode Island’s voter information portal to register or update your information. Provide your Rhode Island driver’s license or state ID number and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

You’ll automatically be registered to vote at a Division of Motor Vehicles appointment unless you opt out.

Use Rhode Island’s voter information portal to check your registration status.

Does party affiliation matter when I vote in the primaries?

Yes. If you’re registered with a party, you may only vote in that party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters can vote in any party primary, but by doing so, they'll become affiliated with that party. To return to unaffiliated status, you must fill out a form at the polling place after you vote, update your information in the state’s voter information portal or fill out a new voter registration form.

How can I get a mail ballot?

Any registered voter can request a mail ballot online, by mail or in person:

  • Online:  Go to Rhode Island’s mail ballot application portal and follow the prompts. You’ll need your Rhode Island driver’s license or state ID number and your date of birth.
  • By mail: Download a mail ballot application from the secretary of state’s website. Or call your board of canvassers and ask that an application be mailed to you.

Mail ballot application deadlines will be listed at the secretary of state’s website closer to an election.

How do I return my mail ballot?

Your signature is required on your completed mail ballot and the certificate envelope. But you no longer need the signature of two witnesses or a notary. 

Return completed ballots by mail or in person:

  • By mail: Place the mail ballot certificate envelope in the larger, pre-addressed return envelope, seal it and mail it to the state board of elections. Prepaid postage is included. Allow seven mailing days to ensure the board of elections receives it by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

If an emergency prevents you from voting in person on Election Day, you can apply for an emergency mail ballot within 20 days of an election. This allows you to vote at your local board of canvassers until the day before an election at 4 p.m. Contact your board of canvassers for more information.

Track your ballot at the state’s voter information portal by entering your information into BallotTrax.

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

Yes, at your local board of canvassers or another location designated by your city or town. A complete list of early voting locations and hours will become available at the voter information portal closer to an election.

What do I need to know about voting at the polls on Election Day?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you live in New Shoreham, polls are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. You will be allowed to vote after the polls close if you are line by 8 p.m.

Use Rhode Island’s voter information portal to find your polling place.

Do I need identification to vote?

Yes, you’ll need to show a photo ID — such as a Rhode Island driver’s license, state voter ID card or U.S. passport — at the polling place. If you don’t have ID, you’ll receive a provisional ballot.

ID is not required to vote by mail unless you’re a first-time voter who didn’t provide your driver’s license or the last four digits of your Social Security number when you registered. In that case, you’d need to provide an acceptable ID, such as a driver’s license, voter ID card, utility bill or bank statement.

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Sept. 6, 2023, with information about the first congressional district special election. The guide was first published on Aug. 19, 2020.

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