2016-04-21 / Front Page

Remember Photo ID for Voting

Three Polling Places in Newport
By Barry Bridges

With the Democratic and Republican presidential primary set for Tuesday, April 26, Rhode Islanders should make a note to have a photo ID at the polls.

A photo identification is still a fairly new voting requirement in the state, originating with 2011 legislation that first became effective for the 2014 elections. The law is less restrictive than some measures enacted elsewhere, however, in that a range of documents can be presented, such as a driver’s license, U.S. passport, school ID, government-issued medical card, military identification, or Rhode Island voter ID card.

Residents without photo IDs will not be turned away, but will have to cast a provisional ballot. They will then have until the close of business on Wednesday, April 27, to provide further information so that canvassing officials can determine whether those ballots should be counted or disqualified.

Additionally, many Newporters should expect to head to different voting sites on Election Day. With a 27 to 34 percent local turnout expected for the presidential primary, and notwithstanding national headlines that have drawn attention to problems that recently arose in states like Arizona when locations were cut back, most Rhode Island municipalities are not opening all of their traditional polling places.

Madeleine Pencak of Newport’s canvassing office confirmed that only three of the city’s eight voting stations will be open for the primaries .

Ward One residents (Precincts 2102 and 2104) will mark their ballots at St. John’s Church; Ward Two voters (Precincts 2101, 2103, 2105 and 2108) will report to Donovan Manor; and those in Ward Three (Precincts 2106 and 2107) will go to the Newport Public Library.

Voting sites at Pell Elementary School, Fenner Hall, St. Peter’s Church, Thompson Middle School, and Rogers High School will not be utilized.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and parking areas will be clearly designated.

While members of the Moderate Party are not eligible to vote on Tuesday, those registered as unaffiliated are not precluded from having their say in the state’s “mixed” primary. They can request a Democratic or Republican ballot upon arriving at the polling station, although that choice makes them registered members of that party. A voter can once again disaffiliate by following specified procedures.

Those who unexpectedly find that they will be unable to appear at their polling place on Election Day can file an emergency ballot at the canvassing office at City Hall by 4 p.m. on Monday, April 25.

A new online initiative is available this election season and allows residents to check their registration status, determine voting locations, and view a sample ballot using a mobile device. Known as the Voter Information Center, it is available in English and Spanish and allows users to type in their name, birthdate, and city of residence to get customized data.

“We live in a mobile-driven society and I have made it a priority to modernize our elections so that folks can find the information they need, when they need it,” said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. “This tool allows voters to see the ballot they will be voting on, to familiarize themselves with who they will be voting for, and most importantly, know exactly where to go to vote.”

Mobile and desktop versions of the information center may be accessed at sos.ri.gov/vic.

The presidential nominating calendar will also feature April 26 primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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