By CATHERINE McLAUGHLIN, InDepthNH.org
When the news broke about primary absentee ballot applications being mailed to voters by the NHGOP with wrong addresses to return them to their municipal clerks, InDepthNH.org wanted to make sure the recent changes in the law for this year only are explained.
Many Granite staters who choose to vote absentee this year may be doing so for the first time and feel uncertain about how to undertake the process during a pandemic. Incidents such as this may heighten that uncertainty, and it is important that voters understand the process of voting absentee as outlined by the state.
The State House adopted voter reforms this year to help adapt voting systems to the COVID-19 crisis. Voting absentee under new voting laws allows voters to register, request, and submit their ballots without physical contact outside their home. New legislation also allows voters to select “concern for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease” as a reason to request an absentee ballot.
If already registered to vote, voters can request an absentee ballot remotely in two ways. Voters may call their town clerk to file a request and have an application mailed to them. They also can download an absentee ballot application from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office website.
Once an application for an absentee ballot has been filled out, it can be submitted by mail to the town clerk’s office or dropped off at town or city hall. Requests may also be filled out in-person at a town clerk’s office. Once an application is received and validated by the town clerk, an absentee ballot will be mailed to the voter. Also, under the new law, absentee ballots for both the September primary and the November General elections may be submitted on the same form.
If voters request an absentee ballot and are not registered to vote, a registration form will be sent along with the ballot from the town clerk. Voters should be sure to fill out and submit all forms sent by the town clerk as soon as they are able. Voters may also register to vote in person at their local city or town clerk’s office, if it is open to the public.
Find out how to contact your city or town clerk here.
If voters have any questions about the absentee voting process they should contact their city or town clerk promptly or check the Secretary of State’s website for more information.
The state’s Voter Information Look-Up resource may be used to ensure that the town clerk has received a voter’s request for an absentee ballot or that they have been successfully registered. This site will also note the date an absentee ballot was mailed to the voter. After ballots are submitted, voters may also use this resource to see that it has been received and will be counted.
Track your absentee ballot and/or request here.
The complete list of guidance and forms put out by the Secretary of State’s office can be accessed here.