Early voting begins Wednesday

By: - August 16, 2023 11:03 am

Voting booths at Providence City Hall, where as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, a dozen people had voted. (Christopher Shea/Rhode Island Current)

Today marks the beginning of early in-person voting for the special primary elections held across the state.

Voters will have through 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, to cast their ballots if they want to avoid going to the polls later that day. Polls will not be open on Labor Day, said Faith Chybowski, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office.

Primary Day is Sept. 5. Chybowski said voters can choose to vote either at their early voting location during early voting hours or at their assigned polling place until 8 p.m. 

Primaries are being held for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, State Senate District 1, and Foster Town Council.

What’s on the ballot

Democratic voters in Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district will choose between: Former White House aide Gabe Amo, former U.S. Naval War College professor, Walter Berbrick, Stephanie Beauté, Pawtucket Sen. Sandra Cano, Don Carlson, Woonsocket Rep. Stephen M. Casey,  Spencer Dickinson, Providence City Councilman John Gonçalves, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, Aaron Regunberg, Providence Sen. Ana Quezada, and former Republican Allen Waters.

On the Republican ballot, voters will choose between Gerry Leonard, a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer from Jamestown, and former Middletown Town Councilwoman Terri Flynn.

The district includes: Barrington, Bristol, Central Falls, Cumberland, East Providence, Jamestown, Lincoln, Little Compton, Middletown,  North Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Tiverton, Warren, and Woonsocket. 

The district covers parts of Providence, including the East Side and South Side, and a portion of downtown. 

Voters in Providence’s Smith Hill neighborhood, half of which lies within the 1st Congressional District, will also vote in the primary to fill the State Senate seat of the late Maryellen Goodwin.

Four Democrats are on the ballot: Providence Rep. Nathan Biah; Jake Bissaillon, chief of staff to Senate President Dominick Ruggerio; Mario Mancebo, who ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2010 and 2014; and Michelle Rivera, policy director at Progreso Latino.

Nikoya Powell, who serves as second vice-chair for the Republican Party of Rhode Island, is the sole GOP candidate in the State Senate race.

Foster Republicans will choose between former Planning Board member Ron Cervasio and Foster Center Volunteer Fire Company Treasurer Catherine Bay. The winner will face off against former Town Councilor Cheryl Hawes, who is running unopposed on the Democratic ballot, in the Oct. 3 general election.

How to fill the ballot

After receiving a ballot, fill in the oval to the left side of the paper with your choice. When finished marking your ballot, insert it into the voting machine at the precinct.

Voters needing assistance marking their ballot may choose to use the ExpressVote, which uses touch-screen technology that produces a paper record for tabulation. Those requiring accommodations must inform their elections official.

What’s needed to vote

Early voters will be asked to show a valid photo ID. If you do not bring an acceptable photo ID when voting in person, you will vote with an emergency mail ballot.

The following is accepted as a valid form of identification:

  • Rhode Island driver’s license/permit 
  • U.S. passport 
  • ID card issued by any federally recognized tribal government 
  • ID card issued by an educational institution in the U.S.
  • U.S. military ID card 
  • ID card issued by the U.S. government or State of Rhode Island (RIPTA bus pass, etc.)
  • Government issued medical card
  • RI Voter ID card

IDs must be valid and not have expired more than six months prior to voting, but do not need to have your current address. Driver’s privilege cards or permits will not be accepted at the polls.

Where to vote

For most municipalities, in-person early voting will be held at the local Board of Canvassers, which is typically at town/city hall.

Early voting locations can be found here.


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Christopher Shea
Christopher Shea

Christopher Shea covers politics, the criminal justice system and transportation for the Rhode Island Current.