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Online Voter Registration in N.H.? Secretary of State's Open to Studying It

Allegra Boverman

New Hampshire is one of about a dozen remaining states that doesn’t allow online voter registration — but a bill introduced this year could change that.

Similar proposals surfaced in 2016 and 2017, but neither gained traction — in part, because they lacked buy-in from the Secretary of State's office. 

Now, Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said they’re open to the idea, but they want the proposal to go through a study committee for more consideration first.

A working group convened several years ago to study the implementation of electronic voter check-in after the issue stirred contentious legislative debate, Scanlan said, and that ultimately allowed the state to come up with a pilot program that's in the works now.

A similar approach, Scanlan said, might help to find common ground when it comes to online voter registration.

Linda Rhodes, of Durham, and other voting rights advocates in favor of such a system said it could raise New Hampshire’s (already relatively high) turnout rates and alleviate long lines at the polls on Election Day.

“In Durham we registered 3,100 people same day last year,” Rhodes said. “It’s really a hard process for a lot of people to find the time to be able to do this, and if they can do it online I think that’s going to be terrific.”

Voters can register online in 37 other states and Washington, D.C. (A 38th state, Oklahoma, authorized an online voter registration system in 2015 but hasn’t yet launched it.)

Casey McDermott is an editor and reporter at New Hampshire Public Radio, where she works with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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