N.H. Voter's Guide: What You Need To Know Before Heading To The Polls

Oct 30, 2018

Election Day is Tuesday. Here's a primer on what you need to know before heading to the polls. Click here for a Spanish language version of this guide.

What's on the ballot this year?

Voters will decide who will represent New Hampshire in Congress, as well as at the State House; the governor’s office is up for grabs, along with all 24 seats in the New Hampshire Senate, all 400 seats in the House of Representatives and all five seats on the Executive Council. (Neither of New Hampshire’s U.S. senators are up for re-election this year.)

Many county positions (including sheriffs, attorneys, commissioners and more) are also on the ballot. Click here for more of NHPR's coverage of this year’s campaigns

Additionally, New Hampshire voters will have a chance to weigh in on two proposed amendments to the state Constitution. One addresses privacy rights, and another addresses taxpayers’ ability to sue the state government. You can read the full text of both questions here.

These ballot questions were addressed during a recent discussion on NHPR’s The Exchange, starting at about the 40-minute mark of this broadcast

How do I vote?

Any registered voter, regardless of his or her party affiliation, can vote for any candidate in a general election.

You can vote in-person on Election Day or by absentee ballot, but you can only vote absentee if you meet certain requirements. (See below for more details on that.)

If you plan to vote in-person on Election Day, you can find your local polling place using our map below, which we created using data compiled by the New Hampshire Secretary of State. For more information about your local polling hours or locations, visit the New Hampshire Secretary of State's website, or contact your local clerk directly.

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 likely won’t have to re-register. But if you’re voting for the first time, voting in a new location, or have recently changed addresses, you will likely have to register or make sure your voter information is up-to-date.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you may need to wait for Election Day to register or make any other updates. Many towns have a cutoff for voter registration in order to finalize checklists ahead of voting day. Consult with your town or city clerk to see when that deadline is, and if it has passed, you can plan to register at the polls on Nov. 6.

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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 one of the following state-approved excuses:

  • You plan to be absent from the place where you vote on Election Day
  • You have a religious observance or commitment that conflicts with Election Day
  • You have a disability that makes it difficult for you to vote in-person on Election Day
  • You’re not able to make it to the polls on Election Day because of an “employment obligation,” which includes either your job or “care of children and infirm adults, with or without compensation”

The state’s absentee rules are spelled out in more detail here and here.

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: You must live in New Hampshire and consider it your home for voting purposes. (The state’s law on voter eligibility explains further: “An inhabitant's domicile for voting purposes is that one place where a person, more than any other place, has established a physical presence and manifests an intent to maintain a single continuous presence for domestic, social, and civil purposes relevant to participating in democratic self-government. A person has the right to change domicile at any time, however a mere intention to change domicile in the future does not, of itself, terminate an established domicile before the person actually moves.”)

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 what you bring depends on whether you need to register to vote or whether you're already registered. 

If you need to register to vote or update your registration, you'll need to bring documents that prove you meet the age, citizenship, idenitity and domicile requirements outlined above. 

If you're already registered to vote, you'll still be asked to present a valid photo ID in order to vote in New Hampshire. 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 pollworkers that electronic documents, not just printed copies, are acceptable in some cases.

The chart below (adapted from documents produced by the New Hampshire Secretary of State) spells out what kinds of documents you can use to prove your voting eligibility. Please keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list, and local election officials can decide to accept additional forms of documentation not included here. If the chart isn't showing up below or is difficult to read on this page, you can also see it by clicking here.

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What if I don't think I 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 attesting that you are who you say you are and you meet the qualifications to participate in New Hampshire elections. If you complete one of those forms, state officials will still likely follow up after the election to confirm your eligibility.

Can out-of-state college students vote in New Hampshire?

College students are allowed to vote in New Hampshire, even those who relocated here from another state for school, as long as they haven’t also voted in their home states during the same election. New Hampshire’s law on voter eligibility is clear: Students just have to follow the same rules that apply to anyone else who wants to vote here.

Can I vote if I've been convicted of a felony?

New Hampshire does not allow someone who's been convicted of a felony to vote "from the time of his or her sentence until his or her final discharge."

But that doesn't mean those voting rights are permanently lost. According to state law, "If execution of sentence is suspended with or without the defendant being placed on probation or he or she is paroled after commitment to imprisonment, he or she may vote during the period of the suspension or parole."

I've been hearing about changes to New Hampshire's voter registration and residency laws. What should I know about those?

There are two laws that you’ve likely heard the most about over the past few months: One is Senate Bill 3 (or SB3), which passed in 2017; another is House Bill 1264 (HB1264) which passed earlier this year.

SB3 creates a new process for people who don’t have documents that prove they live where they’re trying to vote. These changes are in effect for this year’s elections, but with one big caveat:  because of an ongoing court case, the state can’t punish someone who doesn’t comply with SB3. You can catch up more on what SB3 means for this year's voter registration process here.

HB1264 changes the definition of who counts as a New Hampshire resident. While it doesn’t directly alter any of the state’s election laws, it’s likely to have an impact on who will be considered eligible to vote here. This law, however, does not go into effect until 2019 — so it doesn’t apply to this year’s elections. 

What if I run into problems when trying to vote?

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.new hampshire.gov). The state also operates an Election Day Hotline (1-866-868-3703) to field complaints in real-time on Nov. 6. State attorneys also fan out to polling places across New Hampshire on Election Day to make sure things are running smoothly and scout for any potential issues.

If you want to let us know about a voting problem for a potential news story, we also want to hear from you. There are several ways to share news tips with NHPR and ProPublica, as part of their ongoing Electionland project.

  • Text/SMS: Send the word VOTE (or VOTA for Spanish, or 投票 for Chinese) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply).
  • WhatsApp: Send the word VOTE, (or VOTA for Spanish, or 投票 for Chinese) to 1-850-909-8683.
  • Facebook Messenger: Go to m.me/electionland.

More details on NHPR’s role in Electionland can be found here.

This post has been updated from a previous version. If you think we made a mistake in any of the information above, please email us to let us know.