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Elections & Voting
148 West River Street
Providence, RI 02904-2615
Phone: (401) 222-2340
Fax: (401) 222-1444
TTY: 711

Email

Open to the public
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Directions

Voting at the Polls

How do I get my ballot?

When you get to your polling place, poll workers will ask for your name so they can confirm you are registered to vote. Once your eligibility has been confirmed, you will be asked to show a current and valid ID. Then poll workers will give you a ballot and a paper cover called a "secrecy sleeve." You will then proceed to a voting booth, where you can mark your ballot in private. There will be a marking pen in the voting booth for your use in marking your ballot.

What if I do not bring ID or my ID is rejected?

No eligible voter will be turned away at the polls. If you do not bring an acceptable ID to your polling place, you can vote using a standard Provisional Ballot. Once you have marked your choices on the ballot, you will seal the ballot inside the privacy envelope, in order to protect the secrecy of your ballot. That envelope will be placed inside a second envelope, which you will sign. You will be given a Provisional Ballot Receipt as evidence that you voted. Your ballot will be counted if the signature you give at your polling place matches the signature on your voter registration form. You can check whether your provisional ballot was counted by visiting the state Board of Elections website 48 hours after an election. You will need your Ballot ID number (printed on your Provisional Ballot Receipt) and your last name in order to access the information. Or, you can contact your local board of canvassers.

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How do I fill out a ballot?

Paper ballots feature an arrow beside every candidate's name. To vote for a particular candidate, just complete the arrow pointing to the person's name.filling out ballot

After marking your ballot, put it back in the secrecy sleeve. Then proceed to the vote tabulator. Remove your ballot from the secrecy sleeve and insert it into the scanner. Place the empty secrecy sleeve on top of the voting equipment.

 

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What if the candidate I want to vote for does not appear on the ballot?

A vote for someone not shown on the printed ballot is called a “write-in.” The write-in option cannot be used during primary elections. You must do two things to cast a "write-in" vote.

  1. Print the name of the person on the blank line labeled "write-in," and
  2. Complete the arrow pointing to the person's name next to the write-in line.

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How do I vote for all the candidates of a single party?

You may cast a vote for all the candidates from a single political party for every office all at one time. This is called a “straight party” vote and is counted the same as if you had separately completed the arrows next to every candidate from that party on the entire ballot. To cast a straight party vote in an election, complete the arrow pointing to the party of your choice in the straight party section of the ballot.

If you cast a straight party vote and also vote separately for an individual candidate or candidates for a certain office on the ballot, only the individual party candidate or candidates that you voted for separately will be counted for that office. The straight party vote will not be counted for that office, but it will still apply to all the offices you do not separately complete.

Here is a warning about “multiple vote” races and casting straight party votes. Races for some local offices, such as town or city council, often allow you to vote for two or more candidates. If you cast a separate vote for an individual candidate in a multiple vote race, your straight party vote will not apply to any candidate in that race. If you intend to vote for more than one candidate in this case, be sure you complete the arrows next to every candidate you wish to vote for.

And remember, some elected offices and all referenda questions are “non-partisan.” That means there is no political party label. Your straight party vote will not apply to non-partisan races or referenda questions. You must vote for them individually or your ballot will be recorded as a “no vote” on those items.
Be sure to check both sides of your ballot. Sometimes there are so many candidates and referenda questions that we must use both sides of the ballot.

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What happens if I make a mistake when marking my ballot?

If you make a mistake, do not erase or cross it out. Instead, bring your ballot to an official. The official will ask you to complete several additional arrows on the ballot. Your old ballot is then completely voided and sealed to protect the privacy of your intended vote. The official will then give you a new ballot and direct you to a booth to complete it.

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What happens if I vote for too many candidates?

The voting equipment is programmed to return a ballot if you vote for more candidates than allowed by law. An official will ask you to remove the ballot and to complete several additional arrows on the ballot. Your old ballot is then completely voided. You will be given a new ballot and directed to a voting booth to complete it.

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Can someone help me if I have questions about voting?

The clerk who gives you your ballot will explain how to mark it if you ask. The cover of the secrecy sleeve and the inside wall of the voting booth will also contain instructions on how to mark a ballot.

You may also take the "Register to Vote" booklet or any other materials into the booth to assist you in voting.

You can request the assistance of a bi-partisan pair of supervisors.

Federal and state law allows voters who are blind, disabled or unable to read or write to bring a person of their choice into the voting booth. The warden will have an affidavit that must be completed.

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Who can vote in a primary?

To vote in a political party's primary, you must be a registered voter. Primaries are elections held by political parties to decide who will represent that party in the election that follows. The primary allows eligible voters to decide which party candidate will represent them in an election. The winner of the primary must still run in the election that follows.

You can only vote in the primary of the party that you are registered with. If you are an unaffiliated or independent voter - that is someone who is not registered with a political party , you can vote in the primary of your choice.

As soon as you vote in any primary, you are automatically affiliated with that party. If you wish to preserve your ability to vote in a different party's primary in the future, request a "disaffiliation" form from poll officials and fill it out on the spot to return to your independent or unaffiliated status in 90 days.

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How do I change my party affiliation?

You may change your recorded affiliation to a different party or to unaffiliated at any time by visiting your local board of canvassers. However, if you want to change your party affiliation so that you can vote in another party's primary, the change must be filed at least 90 days before the primary election.

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What if elections officials say I am not registered?

If you believe you were left off the voting list or otherwise prevented from regular voting by error, you will be allowed to cast a Provisional Ballot. First, you will complete a voter registration form and fill out a form stating you are registered and eligible to vote. You will then complete a ballot, which you will seal inside an envelope provided with your provisional ballot. The secrecy of your vote will be preserved at all times You will be given a Provisional Ballot Receipt as evidence that you voted. Election officials will then research whether or not you are eligible to vote. If they determine that you are eligible, your ballot will be counted with all other ballots in your polling place. You can check whether your provisional ballot was counted by visiting the state Board of Elections website 48 hours after an election. You will need your Ballot ID number (printed on Provisional Ballot Receipt) and your last name in order to access the information. Or, you can contact your local board of canvassers.

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