Rhode Island's present constitution was adopted in 1842 and has been often amended. The state's executive branch is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term and eligible for reelection. The bicameral legislature has a senate with 50 members and a house with 75, all elected for two-year terms. Local government is carried out on the city level; Rhode Island's counties have no political functions. The state sends two senators and two representatives to the U.S. Congress; it has four electoral votes. Rhode Island is solidly Democratic, but Lincoln Almond, a Republican, was elected governor in 1994 and reelected in 1998, and he was succeeded by another Republican, Donald Carcieri, elected in 2002 and again in 2006. In 2010 Lincoln Chafee, an independent, was elected to the office.
The state's leading educational institutions are Brown Univ. and the Rhode Island School of Design, at Providence, and the Univ. of Rhode Island, at Kingston.