Accessibility and Voting Assistance
All registered voters in Rhode Island are entitled to equal access to vote. No one should be denied the right to vote based on their ability. This page highlights information for voters who may need assistance or special accommodations to cast a ballot in Rhode Island.
Learn more about your three options for voting in Rhode Island:
- By Mail
- On Election Day
Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is a federal law that requires every state to have voting systems that are accessible for individuals with disabilities. The law also requires voting systems that enable voters who are blind, visually impaired or have print disabilities to cast their votes privately and independently every primary and election.
Under HAVA requirements, Rhode Island registered voters voting in-person either early or on election day, will have access to an accessible voting machine known as the ExpressVote. Watch this demonstration video to learn more about how to use the ExpressVote.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA protects people with disabilities from receiving unequal treatment within state and local government services, programs, and activities.
Under the ADA, all voting locations must have accessible parking, an accessible entrance, at least one handicapped-accessible voting booth, clear signage of accessible entrances and voting booths, good lighting, available seats for voters waiting to vote and notepads to communicate in writing.
Additional Provisions When Voting in Person
Below are additional protections for Rhode Island voters choosing to vote in-person:
- All voting locations must be equipped with a sheet magnifier to assist voters who are visually impaired.
- Voters who are over 65 years of age or disabled must be allowed to use the seated voting booth.
- Voters who have a medical disability which would cause the voter to experience severe discomfort by standing in line will be allowed to move to the front of the line.
- Voters who need assistance may ask election officials for help at any time, even after entering the voting booth.
- Federal and state laws allow voters who are blind, disabled, or unable to read or write to bring a person of their choice into the voting booth to assist them after completing an affidavit.
Additional Provisions When Voting by Mail
Voters with print disabilities or who are visually impaired may apply for an accessible mail ballot by checking the accessibility box in the mail ballot application. An accessible mail ballot allows the voter to use assistive technology to mark their ballot online. The voter then downloads their voting materials, and returns them as a PDF via email to the Board of Elections.
Click here to open the demo link to the online accessible ballot.
Per § 17-19-8.1. Rhode Island also offers braille, large print and tactile mail ballots for voters who are visually impaired.
Forms to vote by mail:
- If you vote in Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence or Woonsocket, federal law requires all voting materials to be available in English and Spanish. Si vota en Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence o Woonsocket, la ley federal exige que todos los materiales electorales estén disponibles en inglés y tal como en español.
Haga clic aquí para acceder a esta información web en español.
- If you do not read or write English and a ballot is not available in your language, you may bring a person of your choosing into the voting booth to assist you after completing an affidavit. The person assisting cannot be your employer, agent of your employer or officer or agent of your union.
Voting and Homelessness
Rhode Island voters who are experiencing homeless are still eligible to vote. If you are homeless and need to register to vote or request a mail ballot, contact the Elections Division at 401.222.2340 for assistance.
Below are links to organizations that help individuals who may need voting assistance and links to more information about federal accessible voting requirements.