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N.H. Attorney General says Democrats' inaccurate mailers caused 'voter confusion'

A mailer sent to some voters  this week by the NHDP included inaccurate return addresses.
New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
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A mailer sent to some voters this week by the NHDP included inaccurate return addresses.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office has issued a cease and desist order against the New Hampshire Democratic Party over a political mailer that it says caused "voter confusion."

The attorney general says the state Democratic Party sent absentee ballot applications to nearly 1,000 people across 39 cities and towns that contained pre-paid return envelopes with the wrong addresses. The return addresses also referred to entities that do not exist, including the “Rockingham Board of Elections.”

The state attorney general's office says it was first notified of the issue on Wednesday by the Kingston town clerk. Since then, several voters have contacted the office, concerned about the mistaken mailers.

(Have you received political mail about voting procedures, or any other political mail, that you’re concerned about? We'd like to hear from you, because this will help us better understand the information voters are receiving about the election process. Email us at voices@nhpr.org.)

In his office’s three-page order, issued Friday, Attorney General John Formella wrote that the inaccurate addresses could “disenfranchise some voters in that voters may complete the absentee ballot applications, believing they will receive absentee ballots for the State General Election, only to discover that their applications were never delivered to their Town or City Clerks.”

Formella also noted that some forms say that the voter was receiving the pre-paid application because they “have a history of requesting absentee ballots” even though that may not be the case.

In a statement, the New Hampshire Democratic Party blamed the inaccurate mailers on “a regrettable clerical error made by a mail vendor with the intention of ensuring every Granite Stater was able to cast their ballot in this year's general election.”

The party said it is working to remedy the situation, including contacting all recipients.

The state is giving the state Democratic Party until Tuesday to supply a written plan for how it will remedy the mistake.

It’s not unusual for political parties to manage efforts to encourage voters to request absentee ballots or register to vote ahead of Election Day. Pandemic-era changes in the voting system, including greater flexibility on which voters could vote via absentee ballot in New Hampshire, expanded the share of voters who used this method in the 2020 election. Those relaxed rules have since expired.

Read more: N.H. Secretary of State clarifies absentee ballot eligibility for voters with health concerns

Voters who have questions about the voting process can access a newly redesigned website from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office.

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Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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