Primary registration deadline this Sunday

The deadline to register to vote in the primary for the vacant 1st Congressional District seat is Sunday, Aug. 6.

The primaries to determine the Democratic and Republican nominees are scheduled for Sept. 5. Early in-person voting begins Aug. 16. The clerk’s office at Town Hall will be open from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday’s deadline day to accommodate last-minute registrations.

In Rhode Island, voters affiliated with a political party may only vote in that party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters, also known as independents, can vote in any party primary. These voters, however, become affiliated with the party after they vote in its primary.

The deadline to apply for a mail ballot is Aug. 15, and the secretary of state’s office has launched an online portal so voters can electronically submit their applications.

Gregg Amore, secretary of state, said it’s an “important step forward” to modernize Rhode Island’s elections system. He called the online system at “convenient and secure.”

“I will do everything I can to ensure the ballot box is accessible to all eligible voters,” he said.

Online applications for mail ballots were authorized through the Let R.I. Vote Act, which was sponsored in 2022 by Jamestown’s state senator, Dawn Euer. The legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Dan McKee, also allows voters to apply for mail ballots without needing an excuse. The notary and witness requirements, moreover, were eliminated.

“Increasing the accessibility of our elections strengthens our democracy,” Euer said. “A simple, secure way to request a mail ballot is now available online.”

The primaries will feature 12 Democrats and two Republicans. Vying for the GOP nomination are Gerry Leonard, a Jamestown resident who was endorsed by the state party, and Terri Flynn, a former town councilor in Middletown.

Democrats who qualified for the ballot, in order of how they appear, are Walter Berbick, Allen Waters, Jamestown resident Don Carlson, Spence Dickinson, Aaron Regunberg, Sabina Matos, Stephen Casey, Gabriel Amo, John Goncalves, Stephanie Beaute, Sandra Cano and Ana Quezada.

None of the nine independent candidates who sought the post submitted enough signatures to appear on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election.

A debate for the Democrats has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at Roger Williams University. Sponsored by the Rhode Island Association of Democratic City and Town Chairs, it will be moderated by Boston Globe reporters Edward Fitzpatrick and Steph Machado. Amo, Beaute, Berbick, Cano, Carlson, Goncalves, Matos, Quezada and Regunberg have committed to participate.

“In order to give the top-tier candidates adequate time to share their views and ideas, we selected the strongest-performing 75 percent of the Democratic candidates to take part in the forum,” said Tom Kane, president of the sponsoring association.

Criteria used in the selection of candidates to participate included their commitment to the Democratic Party platform, fundraising totals, experience in elected office and number of endorsements. The three other candidates will be provided the opportunity to respond to questions posed by the moderators in writing and may be included in the Globe’s coverage of the debate.