My Turn: ‘Monitor’ stories contribute to voting confusion

For the Monitor
Published: 8/1/2020 6:40:12 AM

I appreciate the efforts that the Monitor is making to explain the increasingly confusing landscape of voting during a pandemic. But worse than not covering the issue is covering it with bad information, which political reporter Ethan DeWitt has done twice in the last three months.

In May, he incorrectly informed Monitor readers that they had to declare their party preference by June 2 in order to vote in the party primary of their choice on Sept. 8. Specifically, he wrote: “Any voter wishing to vote in a particular party’s primary must be registered for that party by June 2. If the voter is undeclared, they must declare a party affiliation by June 2; if they want to switch parties, that must be done before that date too, according to RSA 654:34.”

This was wrong, and the voting rights group Open Democracy asked for a correction before June 2, but none was provided. Undeclared voters can actually request the ballot of their choice, either on the absentee ballot application, or by asking for the ballot of their choice at the polls.

In Tuesday’s paper, he wrote: “Registration can be done ... at your town office on any day between six and 13 days ahead of the election you are voting in. For example, if you’d like to vote in the Sept. 8 state primary, you could register in person in town between Aug 26 and Sept 2.”

This implies that there is a very narrow window in which to register, which is incorrect. In a way, it’s also too wide a window. For example, between those dates, Canterbury’s town clerk’s office is only open on three days. What should have been written is this: “You may register to vote in person, or request to do it by mail, during regular business hours of your town or city clerk, but the last day to register is the last meeting of the supervisors of the checklist, which by law is 6 to 13 days before each state election. In New Hampshire, you can also register the day of the election, but voters are urged to register in advance to avoid lines at the polls. Contact your town or city clerk for details and hours.”

There is both misinformation and disinformation regarding voting in the time of coronavirus. Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Gov. Chris Sununu are doing nothing to remove the misinformation, and Donald Trump is actively supporting the disinformation.

It’s important that the Monitor be part of the solution to that, not contributing to the problem.

(Patrice Rasche lives in Canterbury.)

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