A record 38,000 Rhode Islanders cast their votes by mail in this week’s statewide primary, but it wasn’t a simple process for everyone. Voters had to download and print an application, or request one from their local board of canvassers.

This time, hundreds of thousands of applications will be sent out automatically.

Gorbea said the action does not require legislative approval or an executive order from the governor. Federal CARES Act funds will pay for the printing and postage, she said.

When Rhode Island officials last sent mail ballot applications to all voters for the June presidential primary, over 80 percent of voters ended up casting their ballots by mail. But many applications couldn’t be delivered because of outdated information.

For the November election, Gorbea said her office will only send applications to “active” voters meaning people who are registered and have not had elections mail returned as undeliverable.

Gorbea also announced on Monday that Governor Gina Raimondo has authorized the Rhode Island National Guard to assist with processing mail ballot applications. Their duties will include opening envelopes and sorting mail ballot requests but the National Guard will not be involved in accepting or rejecting the applications, or counting votes on the night of the general election.

Voters have until October 13 to submit mail ballot applications for the general election.

For more of our election coverage and voter resources, visit https://explore.thepublicsradio.org/2020-elections/.

Antonia Ayres-Brown can be reached at antonia@thepublicsradio.org.