337 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 222-2353
Fax: (401) 222-3199
Open to the public
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In 1901, a State Returning Board was established to collect, count, and tabulate votes. The board was also responsible for keeping records of vote outcomes and ensuring that outcomes were published in local newspapers or other publications.
In 1935, per PL 1935, Chapter 2195, the use of voting machines was regulated and a board was formed to oversee the administration and operation of said machines. That same year, in PL 1935, Chapter 2188, the Board of Vote Tabulation was established as an official governmental body under the Department of State. Per the aforementioned legislation, all duties of the former State Returning Board were transferred to the Board of Vote Tabulation, as well as new responsibilities involving the administration of voting machines.
A year later, as part of a reorganization of Rhode Island state government in 1936, the Board of Vote Tabulation was dissolved and all powers were transferred to the newly created Division of Elections within the Department of State.
With the passing of the Administrative Act of 1939, changes were made to the process of vote tabulation, as handled by the Division of Elections. However, in 1941, a section 22 was added to the Administrative Act that now delegated these duties to a Board of Elections, a quasi-public body The board assumed all duties ever previously held by the Division of Elections or elections boards.
This board served until 1979 when RIGL 17-7, the chapter that describes said board, was repealed in its entirety and completely rewritten. Per PL 1979, Chapter 312, the State Board of Elections was completely recreated, although serving the same basic purposes as its predecessors.