Rhode Island Absentee Ballot Guide

Last updated June 26, 2014
Military and Overseas voters should visit the Overseas Vote Foundation. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

Important Deadlines

  • Voter Registration Form: Received 30 days before the election. You may register in person on election day, but only in Presidential elections and you will only be allowed to vote for the offices of President and Vice President.
  • Absentee Ballot Application: Received by the 21st day before the election
  • Voted Absentee Ballot: Received by 9:00 p.m. on Election Day

How to apply for an absentee ballot

Register to vote

Recommended: Use our Voter Registration Tool.  Enter your information, print and sign the completed form, and mail it to the address printed on the form.  

You can also download and complete Rhode Island's Voter Registration Form. Mail the completed form to your local Board of Canvassers.

(NOTE: to vote in a party primary in Rhode Island, you must affiliate yourself with that party at least 90 days before the primary.)

Verify your registration

It's best to verify your voter registration before applying for your absentee ballot.  If there's a problem with your registration, register again before proceeding.

NOTE: Most people receive their voter registration cards in the mail 2-3 weeks after registering to vote. Don't worry if you lost your voter registration card. You don't actually need it to vote.

Make sure you're eligible to vote by absentee ballot

You may vote absentee in Rhode Island for one of the following reasons:

  • you believe you will not be able to vote at your polling place on the day of the election;
  • you are incapacitated to such an extent that it would be an undue hardship to vote at the polls because of illness, mental or physical disability, blindness or a serious impairment of mobility;
  • you are confined in a hospital, convalescent home, nursinghome, rest home, or similar institution within the State of Rhode Island;
  • you are employed or in service intimately connected with military operations or because I am a spouse or dependent of such person, OR you are a United States citizen who will be outside the United States.

Apply for your absentee ballot

Rhode Island prepares a new absentee ballot application for every election.

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is 4pm on the 21st day before the election.

Receive, complete, and return your absentee ballot

The Board of Elections will mail you an absentee ballot and a return envelope.  Fill in the required information on the envelop and sign where indicated. You must have your signature on the return envelop must be witnessed by two people or a notary.

Mail your completed ballot to the state Board of Elections.  (The address is on the ballot.)  Your absentee ballot must be received by 9pm on election day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to provide ID when I register to vote in Rhode Island?

You must provide either a valid Rhode Island driver's license number or valid Rhode Island ID number issued on your voter registration form. If you do not have a valid Rhode Island driver's license or RI ID number, you must provide the last 4 digits of your social security number.  If you are registering for the first time in Rhode Island and you do not provide one of these numbers you'll have to include a copy of your ID.  If you forget, you'll need to provide ID the first time you vote.  Acceptable forms of identification include a copy of a current and valid photo identification OR a copy of a current utility bill, current bank statement, current government check, current paycheck, or Another current government document that shows your name and Rhode Island address.

Do I need to provide ID when I apply for my absentee ballot in Rhode Island?

You do not need to provide ID if you've already voted in Rhode Island at least once.  If you are a first-time Rhode Island voter, and you did not put your driver's license number or state ID card number on your voter registration form, then you must provide a copy of one of the following with your absentee ballot application: a current and valid photo identification OR or a current utility bill, Current bank statement, Current government check, Current paycheck, or another current government document that shows your name and Rhode Island address.

I need an emergency absentee ballot. Help!

If circumstances arise (such as hospitalization) within 20 days of the primary or election which prevent you from going to the polls to vote on election day, you may be eligible to vote an emergency mail ballot.  The deadline to apply for an emergency ballot is 4:00 pm on the day before the election.  You can request an emergency absentee ballot from your local Board of Canvassers.  (NOTE: Rhode Island state law establishes the deadline to request a mail ballot as 4 p.m. the day prior to the election or primary. The Board of Elections is unable to accomodate any mail ballot requests after this deadline.)

If you apply for an emergency absentee ballot due to illness, disability or blindness, you must include a certificate from a physician or Christian Science practitioner. This certificate must contain the address of the physician or Christian Science practitioner, the date that the applicant was last examined or treated and attest to the fact that the illness, disability, blindness or serious impairment of mobility did not manifest itself until twenty (20) days or less prior to the primary or election. 

All emergency ballot envelopes must be notarized or witnessed by 2 persons who must sign their names and addresses. (This requirement does not apply to military voters or voters who are incapacitated due to illness, disability, or blindness.)

Can I vote by absentee ballot on a permanent basis in Rhode Island?

Generally, no. However, if you are permanently incapacitated to the extent that it would be a hardship to go to the polling place, you may use the Rhode Island Application for Automatic Mail-in Ballot to request that the Board of Canvassers put your name on their list to automatically receive a mail ballot application for a period of 5 years.

Can I vote in person before the election in Rhode Island?

No, Rhode Island does not allow in-person voting before election day.

I've already received my absentee ballot.  Can I still vote in person in Rhode island?

Yes, but only on election day

When you apply for a mail ballot, your Local Board of Canvassers makes a note of it and your name is taken off the list of eligible voters for your polling place.  In order to be able to vote at the polling place, you must return the absentee ballot to the Board of Canvassers, or you will be required to cast a Provisional Ballot at the polling place on the day of the primary or election.

Additional Information

State Election Website: http://www.elections.state.ri.us/
Email Address: elections@elections.ri.gov
Local Election Officials: Your Local Election Official is the best person to contact if you have questions.  They'll be able to provide up-to-date information on rules and deadlines. 


Every person who shares helps us reach three more voters.