Bill would expand absentee ballot rules

Monitor staff
Published: 4/27/2016 10:48:52 PM

As the state gears up for the 2016 general election, the Republican-led Senate is poised to pass a bill today that would let caregivers of children or an infirmed adult cast an abentee ballot. 

New Hampshire’s aging population means more people in the state are becoming caregivers for elderly parents or a spouse with serious health problems. In 2013, family caregivers in New Hampshire provided roughly 161 million hours of care to parents, spouses, and other adults – worth an estimated $2.33 billion, according to an AARP study released last year.

The state has approved several policies recently that are designed to improve conditions for informal caregivers, who officials say are critical for the state’s health care system.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan recently signed a bill into law that would make it easier for people to add in-law apartments – officially known as accessory dwelling units – to their homes. A new state law that took effect Jan. 1 lets patients name their caregiver in hospital records.

The absentee voting bill, House Bill 659, has already passed the House.

Currently, New Hampshire voters can submit absentee ballots if they are away from their city or town on election day, if they cannot come to the polls because of a religious commitment or disability, or if they have to work through the entirety of polling hours. The legislation expands the definition of “work” to include people who are caring for children or infirmed adults, with or without compensation.

“By broadening the scope of how voters can participate by absentee ballot, it helps make more people eligible and helps increase voter turnout,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Katherine Rogers, a Concord Democrat.

The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee unanimously recommends the bill pass the chamber.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307, or on Twitter @amorrisNH.)

Editor’s note: This story has been clarified to reflect the caregivers would be casting ballots for themselves. This information was unclear due to an editing error. 



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