By Nancy West, InDepthNH.org
Not registered to vote yet? Be not afraid.
Just go to your local polling place on Tuesday and you can register on Election Day even if you don’t have paperwork to prove you are who you say you are or live in the community where you want to vote.
If you are eligible to vote – that is you are 18 or older, a U.S. citizen and live where you want to vote – it would be illegal for poll workers to turn you away just because you don’t have the correct paperwork, according to Secretary of State William Gardner.
“If you are 18 and qualified to vote, you cannot be turned away even if don’t have anything on you to prove domicile,” Gardner said. “You sign an affidavit and you can vote. You go to get your ballot and have your picture taken.”
Of course, it might be easier to bring the correct documentation. (see below for what to bring). People who are already registered to vote in their community need only show a photo ID or sign an affidavit if they don’t have one to show.
Recent court orders in an ongoing lawsuit that is trying to overturn a new law requiring increased documentation of domicile have likely confused the public. And Gardner is afraid that could cut down on voter turnout.
Known as SB3, the law requires new voters to provide more documentation of where they live if registering 30 days before an election.
Critics said the change would be an undue burden on students and homeless people. But Gardner said the new proof of domicile forms have already been used in all of the towns and cities in recent elections and the state primary without complaint.
That is the same form that will be used Tuesday after the state Supreme Court weighed in last Friday, overturning a lower court ruling that would have created a brand-new hybrid form for this election.
“Don’t be scared into not voting,” Gardner said.
Regardless of the criticism of the new law, Gardner said New Hampshire is the easiest state in which to vote in the country.
“We’re the only state where you can register at the polls on election day, there is no durational residency and no provisional ballots,” Gardner said. “All this talk about voter suppression, it’s just not fair to do that. We’re the easiest state to vote in.”
Gardner pointed to Massachusetts where the Mass. Supreme Court ruled in July that it is constitutional to cut off voter registration 20 days before elections there.
Election Day hotline
On Friday, Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announced his office will be operating an Election Day hotline from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. and encouraged voters and election officials with concerns or questions to call 1-866-868-3703.
A team of more than 70 attorneys, investigators, and staff from the Attorney General’s Office and Secretary of State’s Office will be deployed to polling locations across the state. They will be available to assist local election officials and respond to any issues that may arise.
The following information is available on the Secretary of State’s website:
Registering to Vote in New Hampshire
To be eligible to register and vote in New Hampshire a person must be:
- 18 years of age or older on election day;
- A United States Citizen; and
- Domiciled in the town or ward where the person seeks to vote.
To register, you will need to provide documents that prove your identity, age, and citizenship.
- A driver’s license or non-driver ID from any state satisfies proof of identity and age.
- A birth certificate, U.S. Passport/Passcard, or naturalization document satisfies proof of citizenship.
- Note: A New Hampshire Real ID compliant driver’s license is NOT proof of U.S. Citizenship.
If you do not have these, you can prove your identity, age, and/or citizenship, by signing a Qualified Voter Affidavit, under oath, in front of an election official.
You will also need to provide documentation to prove that you are domiciled in the place where you intend to vote. There are many types of documents that will satisfy this requirement. These are some of them.
- A New Hampshire driver’s license or non-driver ID showing your current address;
- A document from the school that you attend, showing that you live in campus housing. A document issued by the school that has your name and the address where you live satisfies the requirement. Many colleges and universities provide students with satisfactory documents already.
- A note signed by a school official, including a Resident Assistant or other person with supervisory responsibility for your dorm satisfies the requirement under RSA 654:1, I-a.
- A rental agreement, lease, or similar document that shows your name and the address of your domicile. The document must show that you are domiciled at the address on Election Day.
- A document showing that you own the place you are domiciled at, such as a deed, property tax bill, or other similar document that has your name and address.
- A New Hampshire resident motor vehicle registration, driver’s license, or non-driver photo ID.
If you are registering to vote more than 30 days before the next election, you must provide this proof before you can register. Or, if you cannot, follow the procedure below for registering within 30 days of an election or on Election Day.
If you register within 30 days of an election or at your polling place on Election Day and you do not bring one of these documents proving domicile, you will need to sign an affidavit before you can vote. You will need to check off one of the following two options on the affidavit:
(1) You have a document that will prove your domicile but did not bring it with you, and you agree to deliver or mail the document to the town or city clerk within 10 days following the election (or 30 days in some areas – ask election officials). OR
(2) You are not aware of any documents that will prove your domicile, and understand that town officials will take steps to confirm that you are domiciled where you claim.
Although by law you could be subject to criminal or civil penalties for failing to deliver the documents that prove your domicile, the Superior Court has temporarily ordered that the State cannot enforce these penalties.
Even if you do not have documents proving your domicile on Election Day, or within 30 days of the election, you will be able to register to vote and you will be able to vote on Election Day.