Casey McDermott | New Hampshire Public Radio

Casey McDermott

Investigative Data Reporter/Editor

Credit John W. Hession

Casey McDermott covers politics and policy, with a focus on data and accountability reporting.

Prior to joining NHPR, Casey worked at The Concord Monitor and held internships at ProPublica, the Student Press Law Center and the Chronicle of Higher Education. 

She studied journalism and sociology at Penn State but spent most of her days (and nights) in the newsroom of the independent student newspaper, The Daily Collegian. The Collegian was recognized nationally for its work during Casey's time as its managing editor and editor-in-chief.

This photo, from the Windham Town Clerk's Facebook page, shows the totals initially reported on election night.
Windham Town Clerk's Office on Facebook

New Hampshire's Ballot Law Commission has joined a bipartisan chorus calling for the state attorney general's office to review why the recount totals in a contested Windham State House race differed substantially from what was recorded at the polls on Election Night.

Coronavirus updates for New Hampshire
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

As some leaders of his own party refuse to acknowledge the same reality, Gov. Chris Sununu said he expects President-Elect Joe Biden to take office in January and affirmed his faith in the integrity of New Hampshire’s elections.

Voters in line in Newfields, N.H., on Nov. 3, 2020
Dan Tuohy, NHPR

Editor's note: This story was updated on Nov. 13 with additional information received from state and local officials about the polling place exposures.

Anyone who stood in line at a New Hampshire polling place on Election Day should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, state officials said Thursday — more than one week after the election took place.

Proud to vote sticker and a ballot.
Rebecca Lavoie/NHPR

Expanded absentee voting eligibility was expected to reshape voting patterns in New Hampshire in this year's elections. New numbers from the Secretary of State make the scale of that shift clear, with New Hampshire seeing both record turnout and a huge jump in the rate of absentee voting this year.

A mailbox and sign saying "Hand in Your Ballot to the Town Clerk" outside Durham Town Hall Oct. 31
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Maybe you voted absentee in the general election, and you’re wondering whether your vote was counted. Or maybe you just registered to vote in the past few weeks, or even on Election Day at the polls, and want to verify that your information was recorded correctly.

Absentee votes are counted in Nashua
Sarah Gibson, NHPR

That sound you heard across New Hampshire on Tuesday was a collective exhale over months of pent-up election anxiety —  not about the final results, but about what kind of chaos or confusion or conflict a presidential election in the time of coronavirus, under the distant but looming threat of civil unrest, might have in store.

Voters line up at the Manchester City Clerk's office on Oct. 24, 2020.
Dan Tuohy, NHPR

Even before the polls close on Election Day, the pandemic has already reshaped the 2020 race in New Hampshire.

When state election officials announced this spring that any voter can cast an absentee ballot if they’re concerned about the coronavirus, it set off a record number of requests. Now, as of the morning of Nov. 3, hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire voters have already cast their ballots absentee.

The entrance to Hillside Middle School, a polling location in Manchester, during the September 2020 primary.
Pete Nakos for NHPR

Editor’s note: This story was updated with additional comments from the United States Attorney for New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office says state and local authorities can’t prevent people from bringing guns into polling places, even those located in school buildings, as gun-free school zones are a matter of federal law. But the United States Attorney for New Hampshire says anyone thinking about bringing a gun into a polling place should proceed with caution.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

The Manchester Doubletree Hilton hotel has hosted its fair share of campaign events through the years, but this past weekend it also hosted a crucial part of the voting process — serving as the absentee ballot pre-processing hub for New Hampshire’s largest city.

Clockwise from top left: Dartmouth Student Assembly members Elliott Montroll, Cait McGovern, David Millman, Jennifer Qian, Jake Maguire and Jonathan Briffault on a Zoom call.
Zoom Screenshot

The pandemic has upended lots of things about campus life for the nation’s college students this fall — including voting. That’s particularly true in New Hampshire, a place where the student vote has made a difference in close elections.

Letizia Ortiz and Eva Castillo stand outside a storefront in Manchester during a recent canvassing trip.
Casey McDermott, NHPR

It’s a little before 11 a.m., a little over a week before the election, just off of Union Street on Manchester’s East Side. And Eva Castillo is on a mission.

“This is a very invasive thing to do,” she says, under her breath, before turning her attention to the young men she just spotted walking into an apartment building on Cedar Street. 

Secretary of State Bill Gardner addresses local election officials in a Zoom meeting.
Zoom Screenshot

Secretary of State Bill Gardner has overseen New Hampshire elections for more than four decades and worked on voting policy in the Legislature several years before that — but even he’s never seen anything like 2020.

Dan Tuohy, NHPR

The New Hampshire Democratic Party is expanding its voter assistance hotline to cover eight different languages most commonly spoken by the state’s immigrant and refugee communities, filling in where state election officials have declined to provide official bilingual voting resources.

A voting sign
Ellen Grimm / NHPR

This post has been updated with additional comments from the state Republican and Democratic parties.

College students who previously registered to vote in New Hampshire do not automatically lose their voting eligibility if they’re out of state due to remote learning or other circumstances, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office affirmed Wednesday.

A sign along the road in Durham reads, "Thank you for voting absentee."
Annie Ropeik, NHPR

Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said state officials recently met with representatives from the United States Postal Service to address concerns raised by local election officials about changes affecting absentee ballot delivery.

A jar of "clean pens" at a New Hampshire polling place during the September 2020 state primary.
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Editor's note: If you came to this story because you heard a conspiracy theory about Sharpies invalidating ballots in other states, please know that there is no evidence to those claims. You can read more in this advisory from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or this reporting from our public radio colleagues in Arizona. We also invite you to read the full story below, which explains the safeguards built into the voting system to ensure all ballots are counted.

A copy of the absentee ballot application form with a note attached that says, "You are needed please fill this out & mail it in."
New Hampshire Attorney General's Office

Your mailbox is probably packed with campaign fliers and get-out-the-vote material these days. With so many voters handling the balloting process by mail this year, it can be confusing to figure out what kind of election paperwork is legit. And if you’re not careful, returning the wrong paperwork to your local elections office could compromise your vote.

The 2020 general election is November 3. A sign that says "vote" in capital letters sits in a yard.
Britta Greene for NHPR

State election officials say they will work with their counterparts in the U.S. Postal Service to clear up concerns around an apparent policy change that’s causing some absentee ballots to make an extra trip through regional processing hubs, even if they’re just going from one address to another within the same city or town.

WebEx Screenshot

Most of New Hampshire's voting rules will remain in place as planned for November, despite a recent court challenge. A judge on Friday rejected claims that the state’s absentee ballot deadline, postage requirements and “ballot harvesting” restrictions created burdens on people's right to vote.

Cori Princell, NHPR

Editor's note: This post was updated Oct. 10 to reflect new data on absentee ballot rejections during the September state primary.

More New Hampshire voters will be casting an absentee ballot in the November election than ever before. And since any eligible voter can cast an absentee ballot this year because of the pandemic, many are using the process for the first time.

Dan Tuohy | NHPR

Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect changes UNH made, after this piece was first published, to how it publicized the absentee voting events.

University of New Hampshire students will be able to register and vote absentee on campus in October. It's part of a strategy to cut down on crowding and long lines at Durham's polling place, which is often one of the busiest in the state during high-turnout elections. 

WebEx Screenshot

The November election is front and center on a lot of people's minds right now — not least of all because President Trump has recently declined to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election. He has also, without evidence, questioned the legitimacy of the election itself.

But here in New Hampshire, there's another battle playing out in court that could have ramifications for how and when voters cast their ballots in November, and how those ballots are counted.

Cori Princell, NHPR

Community leaders in Manchester are hoping to recruit more bilingual people to work at the polls in the upcoming election.

This comes after the city’s Multicultural Advisory Council asked the state to publish voting instructions in Spanish, Nepali, French and other languages spoken by New Hampshire's growing immigrant and refugee communities.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Looking ahead to November, some New Hampshire pollworkers are warning that delays are in store if the state doesn’t grant them more leeway in processing absentee ballots before Election Day.

Annie Ropeik, NHPR

Even before the polls opened on Election Day, we knew New Hampshire was poised for record-breaking absentee ballot numbers. Now, we have the data to better understand how expanded absentee eligibility affected voting patterns in the September state primary.

Cori Princell, NHPR

Over the past few months, the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office has told members of the public to turn to official sources for the most reliable guidance on how to vote — especially as the state’s election process has adapted to COVID-19.

BLOOMSBERRIES VIS FLICKR CC

President Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee can intervene in a lawsuit challenging New Hampshire's COVID-19 voting procedures, a judge has ruled.

The campaigns will join New Hampshire state attorneys who oppose further changes to absentee ballot rules for the November election.

Dan Tuohy, NHPR

Tuesday is going to be a learning experience for voters and election officials alike, as New Hampshire navigates its first election of the COVID-19 era.

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

President Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee are asking to intervene in a lawsuit challenging New Hampshire’s COVID-19 voting procedures. If their request is approved, they would join a team of state attorneys trying to stave off changes to New Hampshire’s absentee registration and voting rules ahead of the November general election.

Annie Ropeik, NHPR

With a week to go before the state primary election, New Hampshire is launching a new absentee voting system meant to allow more voters to cast a ballot privately and independently. 

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