Jim Rousmaniere, retired editor of The Keene Sentinel has assembled a media fact sheet regarding the subject of safe voting during the pandemic:
NEWS MEDIA FACT SHEET:
VOTING IN NH 2020
Governor Sununu, the New Hampshire Legislature and the Secretary of State’s office have committed themselves to elections this year that limit voters’ exposure to the coronavirus.
House Bill 1266 and the Secretary of State’s new Election Procedure Manual (due in August, 2020) spell out specific steps to protect both voters and election workers during both the Sept. 8 state primary and the Nov. 3 general election. Among those steps:
- Any registered voter who is concerned about Covid-19 may apply for an absentee ballot at his or her town or city clerk’s office. Also, application forms can be found at the Secretary of State’s web site at: http://sos.nh.gov/VotingEmergency.aspx. Voters may check a box on the absentee ballot application that lists Covid-19 as a qualifying concern. Alternatively, voters may check a box denoting “disability” as a reason for applying for an absentee ballot. (SOURCE: House Bill 1266 and Secretary of State’s office)
- Voters interested in using absentee ballots are encouraged to apply for – and submit –filled-out absentee ballots as early as possible. Late ballots will not be counted.
- Election workers may begin processing (but not opening and counting) absentee ballots several days in advance of the primary and the general election.
(SOURCE: House Bill 1266)
- At the discretion of local election workers, external drop boxes might be available for deposit of filled-out absentee ballots. Voters should call their town or city clerk regarding location. (SOURCE: Secretary of State Bill Gardner, interview, July 17, 2020)
To register to vote citizens should call or email their town or city clerk’s office.
POLLING PLACE SAFETY (a):
Voters who decline to wear masks might be barred from entering polling places. Under certain circumstances voters who refuse to wear masks will be able to fill out and cast a ballot outside the formal polling place under the supervision of a designated election worker.
(SOURCE: Secretary of State Bill Gardner, interview, July 17, 2020)
POLLING PLACE SAFETY (b):
The state government was provided $3.2 million in federal funds to be used to improve safety in the 2020 elections, including the purchase of personal protective equipment for poll workers.
NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTING BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
VOTING HISTORY: In the 2016 general election, about 10 percent of New Hampshire voters (about 75,000 voters) cast absentee ballots.
(SOURCE: Laconia Daily Sun, 6/25/20, interview with Secretary of State Bill Gardner)
VOTER TURNOUT: In the 2016 presidential election in New Hampshire, more than 78 percent of registered voters cast a ballot.
(SOURCE: Secretary of State’s office)
NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTERS:
In April 2020, there were 1,002,904 names on the voter checklist in New Hampshire (377,754 undeclared, 323,430 Democrats and 301,720 Republicans)
(SOURCE: Secretary of State’s office: https://sos.nh.gov/NamesHistory.aspx )
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VOTER PREFERENCE: One-third of likely voters in the 2020 general election in New Hampshire say that they would prefer to use an absentee ballot this year.
(SOURCE: University of New Hampshire Survey Center, 6/25/20: https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1596&context=survey_center_polls )
About 85 percent of New Hampshire voters are confident that the 2020 general election vote will be counted accurately.
(SOURCE: University of New Hampshire Survey Center, 6/25/20): https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1596&context=survey_center_polls
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT VOTING RIGHTS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE:
Secretary of State elections division: https://sos.nh.gov/Elections.aspx
League of Women Voters of New Hampshire: http://lwvnh.org/
Open Democracy Action: https://www.opendemocracynh.org/
Jim Rousmaniere, retired editor of The Keene Sentinel and former selectman in Roxbury, is a member of Monadnock United, an informal group of citizens in southwestern NH who are interested in voting rights.