How to vote absentee in 2020: Quick guide

Published: 10/6/2020 12:28:59 PM
When is the election?

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

How do I registerto vote?

First off, you may be already registered. If you have previously voted in your town you will not need to register unless it has been many years since you last cast a ballot – inactive names are sometimes removed from the checklist. You can call your town or city clerk to double-check, or look on the state’s website to see if you’re registered:

If you have just moved to your town or have not voted there before, you will need to register to vote there.

You can register by mail or in person at your town offices. You can either register ahead of the election or on election day itself. If you choose to register ahead of the election – especially if you’re doing so by mail – you’ll need to contact your town to find out when the last day to do so is. That date varies by community but by law must fall between six and 13 days ahead of the election.

If you miss that day, you can always show up on election day and register.

To register remotely, you will need to apply to your town clerk via a registration form, which you can download and print online or request to be sent by the town.

I’m registered. How do I get a ballot?

In order to vote, you will first need to apply for a ballot. To do that, you must fill out an application and give it to your town. You can do this in person or remotely. If you want to do it remotely, you can print out a copy of the application form online or you can call your town and request they mail you a copy themselves. 

This year only, the application form will include an option for voting absentee “due to concern for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).” Make sure to check that box if that is your primary reason. 

Fill out the application, mail it back to the town (or hand it in in person), and wait for your town to mail you back your ballot.

How do I vote?

Once you have your ballot, fill it out as you would in a ballot box, making sure to fill in the ovals completely and to pay attention to the number of candidates you’re allowed to vote for in each race.

Seal the smaller envelope containing your ballot, and fill out the affidavit on the outside. Put that envelope inside the larger one and mail the ballot back to your town. Alternatively, you can drop the ballot off at your town office as long as the office is staffed at the time. You cannot drop off the ballot overnight; somebody must be at the office to accept it.

Absentee ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. on election day. If you mail yours, make sure it will arrive by then. The New Hampshire Secretary of State recommends mailing the ballot at least five days ahead of the election day to be safe. Of course, you can also go to the polls and vote as usual on Nov. 3.

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