2024 NH Primary Guide: Where to vote, how to vote and what to bring to the polls

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Vice President Joseph Biden NH Primary 2020 1
Then-Vice President Joseph Biden during a 2020 NH Primary campaign stop. Biden’s name will not be on the 2024 Primary Democratic ballot. File Photo.

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The New Hampshire presidential primary is Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. Here’s what you need to know to participate.

What are we voting for?

You’ll only be able to vote for president, not any state or local offices. The election on Jan. 23 will help to decide who Democrats and Republicans nominate for the general election in November.

A separate primary election for other state and federal races is scheduled for September.

What if my preferred candidate dropped out? Can I still vote for them?

You can — and some candidates who are no longer in the race will be listed on the ballot — but that vote will essentially be null at this point.

Can I vote in either the Republican or the Democratic primary?

If you’re a registered Republican, you can only vote in the Republican primary.

If you’re a registered Democrat, you can only vote in the Democratic primary.

If you’re registered as an undeclared (sometimes called an “independent”) voter, you can vote in either race when you show up to the polls.

The deadline to update your party registration before the presidential primary was in October.

How can I check my party registration?

You can look it up on the Secretary of State’s website, or you can call your local clerk to ask for assistance. Every city and town is also required to have an up-to-date voter checklist posted publicly at city or town hall.

I’m a Democrat who wants to vote for a Republican, or a Republican who wants to vote for a Democrat. Is that allowed?

Not really.

You can write in the name of any candidate on your ballot, but the two parties are essentially holding separate elections on Tuesday, so your vote for a Democrat on the Republican ballot (or vice versa) won’t count toward their overall vote total.

How do I vote?

You can vote in person on Election Day or by absentee ballot, but you can only vote absentee if you meet certain requirements. (Manchester residents can click here for details on absentee voting. More general info below.)

If you plan to vote in person on Election Day, you can find your local polling place here. For more information about your local polling hours or locations in Manchester, click here or visit the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website.

Before you can vote, you first need to make sure you’re registered at your local polling place.

If you’ve already registered and haven’t moved to a new address since then, you probably won’t have to re-register.

If you’re voting for the first time or living somewhere different than the last time you voted, you will likely have to register or make sure your voter information is up-to-date.

You can check your registration status on the Secretary of State’s website or with your local clerk.

In the final two weeks before the primary, many towns close off voter registration in order to finalize their voter lists for Election Day. Consult with your town or city clerk to see when that deadline is. If you miss it, remember: You can still register at the polls on Jan. 23.

Can I vote absentee?

Most New Hampshire voters cast a ballot in person on Election Day, but you can register to vote absentee if you have a state-approved excuse, including:

  • You plan to be out of town on Election Day
  • You have a religious observance or commitment
  • You have a disability or illness that makes it difficult for you to vote in person 
  • You’re not able to make it to the polls because of an “employment obligation,” which could include paid or unpaid work, as well as caregiving responsibilities
  • You have an active protective order due to experiencing domestic violence or you are participating in the Attorney General’s address confidentiality program
  • You’re incarcerated on misdemeanor charges or while awaiting trial

More details on New Hampshire’s absentee ballot rules are available here.

What if I want to vote absentee but I haven’t yet requested an absentee ballot? Is it too late?

No. All local clerks are required to be open from 3 to 5 p.m. the day before an election to allow people to apply for absentee ballots in person. Absentee ballots can be submitted up until 5 p.m. on Election Day.

Additionally, according to the state’s election procedure manual: “If a voter, for example someone who planned to vote in person but was unexpectedly hospitalized on election day, requests delivery of an absentee ballot, the town or city clerk may deputize someone to take an absentee ballot with the application and affidavit envelope to the person.”

I already sent in an absentee ballot. How can I make sure it’s counted?

You can check the status of your absentee ballot on the Secretary of State’s website.

Who can vote in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire voters must meet four basic requirements to cast a ballot here.

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old at the time of the election.
  • Citizenship: You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Identity: You must be who you say you are when registering to vote.
  • Domicile/residence: You must live in New Hampshire and consider it your home for voting purposes. (Here’s more information on how the state views voter residency.)

Can college students vote in New Hampshire?

Yes. College students are allowed to vote in New Hampshire, even those who relocated from another state to attend school here, as long as they haven’t also voted in their home state during the same election.

There are no special voting restrictions that apply only to students.

Do I need to have a New Hampshire driver’s license or car registration in order to vote here?

No. Those items can be used to prove your eligibility, but neither are required in order to cast a ballot in New Hampshire.

According to the state, “No one can be denied the right to register to vote or vote for being out of compliance with the requirements of the motor vehicle code.”

Do I need to get a New Hampshire driver’s license or car registration after voting here?

Possibly. But it depends.

According to the state, registering to vote is a way of establishing your residency in New Hampshire.

“Once one establishes domicile/residence in New Hampshire, New Hampshire law requires that person to take certain actions,” according to the state. “Under the motor vehicle code, a person has 60 days upon establishing domicile/residence to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license, if they drive here, and to register a vehicle, if they own a vehicle in the state.”

More guidance on voting and motor vehicle licensing is available here.

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File Photo/Keene Sentinel

How do I prove citizenship when registering to vote?

You can sign a form at the polls confirming that you are a U.S. citizen who is eligible to vote.

Or you can provide documentation in the form of a birth certificate, a U.S. passport, naturalization papers, or a record confirming that you are a U.S. citizen who was born abroad.

Keep in mind that a Real ID is not considered proof of citizenship under New Hampshire voting laws.

Do I need to bring anything to the polls?

If you want to simplify your registration and voting experience as much as possible, the answer is yes.

But according to state election officials, no voter should be turned away from the polls because they lack the right documents.

If you need to register to vote for the first time — or update your registration — you’ll need to bring documents that prove you meet the age, citizenship, identity and domicile requirements outlined above.

If you’re already registered to vote, you’ll still be asked to present a valid photo ID before casting a ballot. If you don’t have a photo ID, you’ll need to sign what is called a “challenged voter affidavit.” That’s a legal form swearing that you are who you say you are. Click here for more details on the state’s voter ID law.

In some cases, you might be able to use one document — like a New Hampshire driver’s license with your current address — to prove several different eligibility requirements.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office has also instructed poll workers that electronic documents, not just printed copies, are acceptable.

What if I don’t have the right documents when I show up to vote?

If you believe you still meet the legal requirements to vote in New Hampshire, you can cast a ballot on Election Day if you sign a form confirming that you are who you say you are and you meet the qualifications to participate in New Hampshire elections.

If you’re registering at the polls as a first-time New Hampshire voter without proper ID, you’ll still be allowed to vote with something called an “Affidavit Ballot.” But you’ll also need to send proof of ID to the Secretary of State’s office within seven days, or your ballot will be pulled from the final count. Poll workers will give you a postage-paid return envelope that you can use to submit a copy of the needed document to the Secretary of State. More details are available here.

Can I vote if I have a criminal record?

If you have been convicted of a felony but have been released from prison, you are eligible to vote.

By law, all correctional facilities in New Hampshire are supposed to “provide [an] offender written notice that he or she may vote during the period of the suspension or parole” upon release from incarceration.

Additionally, “people confined in a penal institution in pretrial detention or as a result of a conviction for a misdemeanor retain the right to vote,” according to the state’s election procedure manual.

“Most people sentenced to County Corrections fall in this category,” the manual reads. “Their domicile for voting purposes is the town or city where they had their domicile immediately prior to being confined. Persons confined in a penal institution must vote by absentee ballot.”

I need to request accommodations due to illness or a disability. What are my options?

New Hampshire polling places are required to be accessible to all eligible voters.

Each polling place offers voting equipment meant to allow all voters to cast a ballot privately and independently, even if they have vision loss or other conditions that might make traditional balloting challenging.

Voters also have the option of asking someone to assist them with completing their ballot, but that person is not supposed to influence the voter’s choice. For additional information, the Disability Rights Center-NH’s voting rights guide is a useful resource.

The Disability Rights Center-NH also says voters can contact them for assistance if they have trouble accessing their voting location or think their voting rights are being violated.

What if I still have more questions about voting, or what if I run into problems on Election Day?

You can send questions or complaints to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Election Law Unit by phone (603-271-3658) or email (electionlaw@doj.nh.gov). The state also operates an Election Day Hotline (1-866-868-3703) to field complaints on primary day.

If you want to let us know about a voting problem for a potential news story, we also want to hear from you. You can email us at news@nhpr.org, but please keep in mind that this is only for reporting purposes. While we can try to investigate the situation for a possible news story, we are not able to act in any kind of enforcement capacity. If you are running into a serious problem at the polls, you should report it to state or federal authorities using the numbers above.

If you think we made a mistake in any of the information above, please email us at news@nhpr.org to let us know.


GSNC 2 ColorThese articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.


 

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