In this paper, we analyze electric deflection fields for polar molecules in terms of a multipole expansion and derive a simple but rather insightful expression for the force on the molecules. Ideally, a deflection field exerts a strong, constant force in one direction, while the force in the other directions is zero. We show how, by a proper choice of the expansion coefficients, this ideal can be best approximated. We present a design for a practical electrode geometry based on this analysis. By bending such a deflection field into a circle, a simple storage ring can be created; the direct analog of a weak-focusing cyclotron for charged particles. We show that for realistic parameters a weak-focusing ring is only stable for molecules with a very low velocity. A strong-focusing (alternating-gradient) storage ring can be created by arranging many straight deflection fields in a circle and by alternating the sign of the hexapole term between adjacent deflection fields. The acceptance of this ring is numerically calculated for realistic parameters. Such a storage ring might prove useful in experiments looking for an EDM of elementary particles. © the Owner Societies 2011.