Rhode Island will send applications for mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the state in advance of the Nov. 3 general election, officials announced Friday.
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said she's taking the action to make it easy to vote from home and to avoid crowding polling places during the coronavirus pandemic. Voters should begin receiving applications at home starting Saturday, she said.
"It's going to ensure that voters don't have to choose between their health and their constitutional right to vote," Gorbea said.
Joined at a press conference by a member of the state's Board of Elections, Gorbea said she has the authority to send mail-in ballot applications without any specific approval by the state Legislature.
State officials are expecting record turnout for the general election, Gorbea said. Members of the Rhode Island National Guard are being called upon to sort mail-in ballots, she said, but they will not process any ballots.
Rhode Islanders will also be able to vote at in-person polling locations, and drop-boxes will be provided to submit ballots.