N.H. Secretary of State clarifies absentee ballot eligibility for voters with health concerns
Those COVID-specific absentee voting rules have since expired. Unlike other states with no-excuse absentee voting, New Hampshire only allows voters to cast an absentee ballot if they meet certain state-approved criteria.
But in a memo shared with city and town clerks last month, New Hampshire Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said there are still circumstances in which voters can request an absentee ballot as a health precaution.
The memo advised local clerks to let voters know that “a person can register and vote by absentee if, based on their own health circumstances, medical authorities advise them to avoid going out in public.” That includes “voters with symptoms of a communicable disease or illness,” or those who “due to their own health circumstances, limit public exposure in their day-to-day life as a preventative measure,” according to the memo.
New Hampshire election law allows voters to cast an absentee ballot if they are unable to vote in person “by reason of physical disability.” The secretary of state says the above situations would fall under that umbrella.
“‘Disability’ for election law purposes has the same meaning today as it had pre-pandemic,” Scanlan wrote. “The nature of the voter’s disability must leave them ‘unable to vote in person’ according to the Constitution and the absentee voting statute.”
Absentee voting is also an option for New Hampshire voters who can't make it to the polls because of a religious observance, work or caregiving obligations, or plans to be out of town on Election Day.
If you plan to vote absentee, it’s a good idea to request your absentee ballot as soon as possible to allow plenty of time to receive your ballot and return it back to your local clerk in time for the election. State officials advise mailing your absentee ballot at least two weeks before Election Day to ensure it arrives in time to be counted at the polls. For the September 13 state primary, that would mean mailing your absentee ballot by Aug. 30.
If you are not registered to vote in New Hampshire, you can also register by mail if you meet certain requirements.
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