By Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown)

A democratic government cannot function without citizens’ participation.  It is an important responsibility of every U.S citizen to VOTE. 

COVID- 19 has changed our lives and it’s changed how we vote. Our older and health-compromised citizens are at greater risk of being in a crowd at a polling place.  We need to make voting easier and safer for everyone during a pandemic. 

It’s important to review the many ways you can now vote in Rhode Island in the upcoming Sept. 8 primary and Nov. 3 general election.

For the primary, you have until Aug. 18 to submit a mail ballot application to your local board of canvassers at your town or city hall. Or you can download it from Secretary of State’s website: Fill out the application and mail it or drop it off at your local board of canvassers.

Once you receive your mail ballot in the mail, vote in the comfort of your home, but don’t delay. The last day to safely mail your mail ballot to the Board of Elections is Wednesday, Sept. 2. The day before the primary, Monday, Sept. 7, is Labor Day, so there won’t be any mail delivery. 

If you miss the Aug. 18 deadline for a mail ballot, you have another option to vote. The General Assembly passed, and the governor signed into law, a bill that now allows you to cast your ballot into an actual voting machine at your local town or city hall in the 20 days prior to an election. 

So, from Aug. 19 until the election, Monday through Friday during business hours, you can go into your town or city hall and ask to vote.

You’ll need to present your license or legal photo ID to request a ballot. Once you vote, you place your ballot into the voting machine to be counted.   It’s easy, it’s safe and it’s another voting option.

Spoiler Alert: You should get an “I VOTED” sticker! (I love the new blue stickers with the Independent Man on the State House).

You can still vote in person at the polls on primary day, Sept. 8, and Election Day on Nov. 3, but stay safe and WEAR A MASK.  Your vote matters. 

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