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Senate Takes Up Bill To Expand Absentee Voting in N.H.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR
The bill seeks to expand availability of absentee voting in New Hampshire.

A measure that would expand the availability of absentee voting hit the state Senate Wednesday.


Currently voters who want to cast an absentee ballot have to meet certain criteria, like having a disability or an employment obligation.


The bill's architects hope it will increase voter participation by making New Hampshire a so-called "no excuse" absentee state by removing those requirements. Essentially, anyone who wants to vote absentee can do so.


The deputy secretary of state testified that election culture in New Hampshire is simply different from the majority of U.S. states which have adopted similar rules.


"I love it here, some traditions are worthwhile,” said Gail Cromwell, who served for six years on Temple's Select Board. “This one is not. I mean, let's face it, voting is a good thing. We need to allow people to vote more easily."


The City and Town Clerks’ Association testified against the plan, calling it a logistical nightmare.


According to the Pew Research Center, 27 states and the District of Columbia have already adopted "no excuse" absentee laws.


Liz Tentarelli, with the League of Women Voters, testified in favor of the measure.


"If we were to pass this, we would join the majority of the states who value the right to vote above the inconvenience caused by an increased number of absentee ballots," Tentarelli said.


The measure passed the House last month.

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