Here’s why some N.H. voters are having difficulty tracking their absentee ballots

  • The form on the Secretary of State Absentee Ballot Search web page requires a date of birth to determine if a ballot has been received and will be counted. SOS—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 9/26/2020 1:46:48 PM

For about 3,000 older voters in New Hampshire, there’s an extra twist to voting by absentee ballot: You can’t double-check whether the state received your vote because officials don’t know when you were born.

As explained by David Scanlan, senior deputy secretary of state for New Hampshire, the issue exists because many decades ago the date of birth was not required when registering to vote in towns and cities. New Hampshire voters who registered back then and have never moved or updated their registration are listed by name and address, but not by age.

The federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 required every state to make a centralized voter database that compiled all those local voter checklists – including those that don’t have a date of birth.

“When New Hampshire transferred the voter data from town and city lists to the state database, registered voters were not required to fill out new registration forms with birth dates. Instead, voters without a recorded birth date were given a default date,” Scanlan wrote in a response to a Monitor query. That default date is apparently in 1964.

The confusion comes in the Absentee Ballot Search form on the state’s website, which can be used by voters who send in absentee ballots to make sure that it has arrived.

In order to check the status of their ballot, a voter must submit their town, name and date of birth. “Information entered above should be as it appears in the statewide voter registration database,” the website warns.

But for this small group of older voters, no listing exists in the voter registration database that includes their date of birth. Therefore the website won’t think that their absentee ballot has been received.

Despite this quirk, these voters are legally registered and their vote will be counted. The only problem is that the web search can’t find them, meaning that they can’t confirm that their absentee ballot arrived without calling to check.

Scanlan said that the number of default birth dates “has dwindled to just over 3,000.”

“If any voter has trouble tracking their absentee ballot they should contact the Secretary of State,” he said.

The office can be called at (603) 271-3242.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313, dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)




Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2020 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy