MANCHESTER, NH – An onslaught of absentee ballot requests are already flowing into town and city clerk’s offices – surpassing previous request totals.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has impacted nearly every facet of life in New Hampshire, and the September 8 state primary and November 3 general election are no exception. Due to the pandemic, temporary changes to state law have been made to allow New Hampshire residents to complete one form to request an absentee ballot for the upcoming elections. This allows voters to cast their ballots without COVID-19 concerns standing in their way.
Now, city and town clerks are experiencing a steady increase in the number of absentee ballot requests coming in. Manchester City Clerk Matthew Normand said as of the last week of July that his office was at around 1,100 requests to date for the upcoming primary, which he notes is significantly higher than what was seen from the 2016 September primary when there were about 892 total requests that came in.
“It’s a tremendous amount of absentees coming into the office,” Normand said.
During the 2016 primary, Normand said the city saw 834 total absentee ballots cast. The primary is over a month away and that number has already been surpassed.
“We’re going to pass all of those benchmarks that we’ve done in the past just because of the pandemic,” Normand said.
The clerk’s office has now brought aboard two local election officials who are volunteering to help with the increased number of absentees. These individuals work on election day but started assisting this week to give the office a hand processing the absentees.
Additionally, Normand said the city will definitely need help on election day at the polls in November. Training and a stipend is provided to work on election day and Normand added that if people want to try it out in September when there is a slightly lower turnout, that it is a good opportunity to work an election and volunteer in the community. Those interested in doing so can call or email the office at (603) 624-6455 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manchester is not alone in surpassing previous benchmarks for the amount of absentees as Bedford is also experiencing an influx. Town Clerk Sally Kellar said that right now the town is receiving 40-50 requests a day with most people requesting both ballots. She said that these requests are coming in hourly.
“For a September primary this is the most we’ve ever received,” Kellar said.
She also believes the town will likely crush their highest number for the general election as well. As of Friday morning the town had over 700 requests for the state primary. In terms of the general election, the town has received over 1,000 requests.
“So far my deputy town clerk and I are trying to stay one step ahead,” Kellar said. “We may need to get some extra help.”
Make no mistake: the election will happen in New Hampshire on November 3rd. End of story. Our voting system in NH is secure, safe, and reliable. We have done it right 100% of the time for 100 years – this year will be no different.
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) July 30, 2020
Similarly, the Nashua City Clerk’s Office is also receiving numerous requests each day. City Clerk Sue Lovering believes the city will see an unprecedented amount of absentee ballots cast for the upcoming elections.
“Today we have received close to 1,000 requests for the state primary, approximately 1,500 for the general election, and are receiving close to 100 requests daily,” Lovering stated via email last week.
The city received 613 absentee ballot requests for the 2016 state primary and 490 for the 2018 state primary. Additionally, about 3,900 absentee requests were received for the general election in 2016.
Lovering said the city is encouraging all residents to vote absentee during the pandemic. The city also asks residents to request their absentee ballot at their earliest convenience and to return their completed ballot as quickly as possible.
“We have already surpassed the number of requests received for the 2016 State Primary, and anticipate an abundance of our voters will vote absentee during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lovering stated.
Moreover, voting in the upcoming presidential election made the national news cycle recently when President Donald Trump took to Twitter to float the idea of delaying the November 3 election. Trump’s tweet caught the attention of Gov. Chris Sununu who on July 30 tweeted, “Make no mistake: the election will happen in New Hampshire on November 3rd. End of story. Our voting system in NH is secure, safe, and reliable. We have done it right 100% of the time for 100 years – this year will be no different.”
7 Steps to vote absentee in NH
- Download your absentee ballot application form here, fill it out online or print first and write in your information. (Note: If you live in Manchester and don’t know what ward you live in, you can go to the city clerk’s page on the City of Manchester’s website and enter your address to find out.
- Complete your ballot application! You can now check the COVID box and use ONE form for BOTH elections.
- Return your application to your clerk’s office! Find your clerk here. You can send the application by email. fax, mail or drop it off in person.
- Track your ballot here. This tracker will show you when:
- Vote! Check your mail for your ballot. If you get your request in early, you should expect to get your ballot about 30 days before the election. Then VOTE!
- Prepare your ballot for return. Read the instructions carefully and don’t forget to sign the inner envelope!
- Return your ballot! Make sure your ballot arrives at your town or city clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Election Day – mail it or drop it off in person.
- Click Here for answers to some frequently-asked questions about absentee voting and voting in NH including eligibility, registration, and information for college students.
- Have more questions? Need help? Call NH voting hotline at 603-GO-N-VOTE (603-466-8683).