Update: Vote absentee in New Hampshire – the do’s and don’ts

Published: 8/14/2020 5:13:21 PM
Modified: 8/14/2020 5:13:09 PM
When are the elections?

The primary election is Sept. 8, and the general election is Nov. 3.

How do I register to vote?

First off, you may be already registered. If you’ve voted in your town before you will not need to register to vote.

However, if you’ve 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 city or town clerk to find out when the last day to do so is. That date varies by town but by law must fall between six and 13 days ahead of the election.

If you miss that day, you can always show up in person on election day.

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 your city or town clerk.

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 city or town clerk. 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 city or town clerk 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 your city or town clerk (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 voting booth, 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. If you are voting absentee because of concerns about COVID-19, put your signature under this statement on the smaller ballot envelope:  “Absence Because of Religious Observance or Physical Disability.” This accords with guidance from the Secretary of State.

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. This must be done in person and handed to an official. Warning – if you drop off the ballot in a dropbox, it may not be counted.

Absentee ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. on election day. If you mail yours, you must 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.


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