Yes. Political parties will hold primary elections for federal, state, and local offices in September of an election year. Some cities/towns also hold non-partisan primaries. Please contact your local board of canvassers for more information.
If you are affiliated with a specific political party, you may only vote in that party’s primary. Unaffiliated, also known as independent, voters can vote in any party primary but, by casting a vote in a party primary, you automatically become affiliated with that party.
To return to an unaffiliated status, you may request a “disaffiliation form” from poll workers and fill it out before leaving the polling place. You will officially return to your unaffiliated status in 30 days.
You have the option of affiliating with any recognized political party when you register to vote or update your voter registration information. You can do this at any time, but it must be done at least 30 days before voting in a primary. If you do not choose a party affiliation, you will be an unaffiliated voter. Unaffiliated voters can vote in any party primary.
A poll worker will explain how to mark your ballot if you ask. The cover of the secrecy folder and the inside wall of the voting booth will also contain instructions on how to mark your ballot. You may also take this guide or any other materials into the voting booth to assist you in voting.
Per state law, anyone can assist the voter unless they are the voter’s employer or agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter’s union.
You can request the assistance of a bipartisan pair of poll workers. 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. The poll worker will have an affidavit that must be completed.
The voting equipment is programmed to notify you if you vote for more candidates than allowed by law. A poll worker will ask you to remove the ballot and complete several additional ovals on the ballot. Your old ballot is then completely voided and sealed for your voting privacy. You will be given a new ballot and directed to a voting booth to complete it.
If you live at a different address from the one shown on the voting list, or if you are listed as “inactive” because mail sent to your address has been returned by the Post Office as undeliverable, you will need to fill out and sign an additional affirmation form before voting.
The names of the candidates for each federal and state race appear first on the ballot with their party affiliation listed directly beneath their names. The federal and state races appear in the following order: Senator in Congress, Representative in Congress, Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State General Treasurer, Attorney General, State Senator and State Representative.
In most cities/towns, local races will appear next on the ballot. In some races the names of the candidates appear on the ballot along with their party affiliation. Some races are labeled as “non-partisan” or “without party marks or designation”. In those races, the candidate’s party affiliation will not appear on the ballot.
Your ballot may also include races where more than one person is to be elected. In those races, you will see instructions such as “Vote for any 2” indicating that you may vote for up to 2 candidates in that race, “Vote for any 3” indicating that you may vote for up to 3 candidates in that race, and so forth.
The state constitutional amendments and questions are then listed on the ballot. In most cases, the questions start in the first column on the backside of the ballot. Where applicable, local questions follow the state constitutional amendments and questions and are printed on a yellow background. In some cases, questions will not fit on the backside of the ballot and you will be issued an additional ballot.
If you no longer reside in Rhode Island, you should send a signed letter to the local board of canvassers in the city/town where you used to live indicating that you wish to cancel your voter registration record.