Live Blog: N.H. 2020 State Primary - Feltes Secures Dem. Gubernatorial Nomination | New Hampshire Public Radio

Live Blog: N.H. 2020 State Primary - Feltes Secures Dem. Gubernatorial Nomination

Sep 9, 2020

NHPR wants to hear from you: How was your voting experience during COVID-19? Let us know at elections@nhpr.org  (Click here to see some of  your responses.)

ELECTION RESOURCES:

  • Visit NHPR's COVID-19 Voting Guide if you have questions about how the state elections process will work amid the coronavirus pandemic. NHPR's election coverage story dashboard is here.
  • Do you know where your polling place is? The state has this handy polling place search feature
  • The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has activated its election day hotline: (866) 868-3703. The Secretary of State's Office election day hotline is (833) 726-0034.

Want updates and stories about the 2020 elections in your inbox? Sign up for our Primarily Politics newsletter today.

Live blog: Primary Day in New Hampshire

Update: Wednesday, 11:25 a.m.

State Sen. Dan Feltes has officially secured the Democratic nomination for governor, as Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky conceded the race in a mid-morning Facebook live video.

Feltes had declared victory late Tuesday night, but Volinsky said he wanted more votes to be counted before making any decision on the race. But with nearly all precincts reporting vote tallies by 11 a.m. Wednesday, and Feltes maintaining a nearly 5 percentage point lead in the two-person race, Volinsky stepped down and urged his supporters to help Feltes win in November.

Feltes now faces incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu in the general election. The contest pits two opponents who have spent much of the past four years feuding over State House policy matters. Feltes has been behind much of the Democrats' legislative agenda, including raising the state minimum wage, creating a paid family leave program, and expanding renewable energy programs. Much of that has been thwarted by Sununu's veto stamp, particularly in the past two years, when Sununu set a modern record for gubernatorial vetoes in a single two-year legislative session.

Update: Wednesday, 1:25 a.m. 

Democratic gubernatorial primary not yet called; Feltes declares victory

State Sen. Dan Feltes (left) and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky
Credit File photos, NHPR

With more than 85% of New Hampshire's precincts reporting, State Sen. Dan Feltes is maintaining a steady lead over Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, with more than 51% of the vote.

Click here for our real-time election results page.

Feltes declared victory in a speech to his supporters in Concord late Tuesday night, but with thousands of votes not yet counted, Volinsky was not ready to concede the race. 

"I respect the vote," Volinsky told WMUR, "And I respect that in political campaigns, you win and you lose in public, and I'm more than prepared to deal with that. But to cheat people out of their vote being counted is wrong, so we're going to wait."

Explore NHPR's coverage of the 2020 gubernatorial race. 

Update: Wednesday, 12:15 a.m.

Negron will face Kuster (again) in CD2 race

Republican congressional candidate Steve Negron
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Steve Negron has been declared the winner of the Republican primary in New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District. Negron, who also won the CD2 primary in 2018, defeated former state Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker in yesterday's GOP primary.

Negron will once again face Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster in November's general election. 

Get our coverage of Negron and the CD2 race.

Update: Tuesday, 11:25 p.m.

Bryant "Corky" Messner will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in the general election
Credit File Photo, NHPR

Messner wins Republican Senate primary

The Republican primary race for U.S. Senate has been called for Bryant "Corky" Messner. Messner will face Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen in the general election on November 3.

Click here for NHPR's coverage of Messner during the 2020 campaign. 

Update: Tuesday, 9:40 p.m.

CD1 race called for Mowers

Republican Matt Mowers has won the Republican primary race in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District. The Associated Press called the race with less than 40% of precincts reporting.

Mowers will face Democratic incumbent Chris Pappas in the general election on November 3.

Click here for NHPR's coverage of Mowers this campaign season.

- NHPR Staff  

Update: Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.

Few issues reported during New Hampshire's pandemic primary

Tuesday's primary elections were the first big test of New Hampshire's ability to safely conduct an election amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And despite lots of changes in the voting process, things seem to have gone relatively smoothly.

If local journalism matters to you, support it. Donate to NHPR today.

Nicholas Chong Yen, who leads the Election Law Unit with the Attorney General's Office, says that's largely thanks to the hard work and preparation of New Hampshire's local poll workers.

"They really are the front lines to the election operation. They have a large responsibility for how smooth our elections run," he said.

The state says most of the calls coming into its election hotline were routine, but it did have to send out one reminder on Tuesday about the fact that voters were allowed to drop off absentee ballots in-person at the polls after some local websites listed incorrect instructions on that topic. The AG's office says it will increase training on absentee ballot deadlines to make there's no confusion in November.

- Casey McDermott

GET REAL-TIME RESULTS HERE

A voter checks in at a polling place in Portsmouth
Credit Dan Tuohy | NHPR

Update 8:15 p.m.

A few early winners declared on Primary Night

The Associated Press has called some of the races in today's primary election.

Gov. Chris Sununu, the Republican incumbent, will again be his party's candidate for Governor. Democratic incumbents Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswoman Annie Kuster (CD2) have also taken early wins in their primary races.

Update: 6:30 p.m.

More votes than usual at Somersworth polling place

NHPR's Annie Ropeik stopped by Ward 1 in Somersworth, where voters are still trickling in. Officials there say that they've received about 500 votes - including absentee ballots - which is a larger number than is typical for a state primary. 

The polls in Somersworth close at 7 p.m.  

Poll workers at Ward 1 in Somersworth
Credit Annie Ropeik | NHPR

Update: 4:40 p.m.

New procedures, new volunteers in Hanover

Like towns across the state, Hanover has several safety precautions in place as voters head to the polls in today’s state primary. Those include plexiglass at check-in, socially distanced booths, and a temperature check at the door.

Gwen Wittenmaker, a Dartmouth College sophomore, says this year’s primary feels similar to previous New Hampshire elections.

“It’s like not a lot of people here, so it was easy to distance," she says.

Hanover moved its polling place from the high school to Dartmouth’s larger indoor track facility.

The town has received about 1,600 absentee ballots so far. About 800 absentee ballots were cast in the previous primary.

Jeremy Eggleton, Hanover’s town moderator, says Hanover was successfully able to recruit new poll workers for today. Volunteer poll work has typically been filled by older citizens, but many were concerned this year because of COVID-19.

Eggleton says the town made a deliberate effort to recruit people under 50 and young parents to staff the polling station. “We asked around to the different parent organizations, the different neighborhood associations,” he said.

The town got a huge response from the outreach. “So we’re really excited because it didn’t just solve a today problem. It seeded the future from our perspective.”

Eggleton said a new polling station greeter told him she loved what she was doing, and that “nobody ever asked me to do this before.”

“It was a lesson learned for us," he said. "You have to ask at the end of the day.”

- Daniela Allee  

Voters sign in at a polling place in Plymouth
Credit Sean Hurley | NHPR

Update: 3:00 p.m.

In Stratham, lots of absentee voting, but not a lot of socializing 

Officials in Stratham say there is steady turnout at the polls, along with a huge spike in absentee ballots. More than 1,100 absentee ballots have already been returned. Four years ago, that number was just 81.

Town Moderator Dave Emanuel says there’s also less opportunity to catch up with voters who do come in person.

“To not be able to shake someone's hand, and to honesty look in their eyes and say I’m glad to see you, it’s been a long time, or I haven’t seen you since the last election, I really miss the human component. Today’s been all business,” Emanuel says.

Most polling places have reconfigured entry and exit points to ensure adequate social distancing, and many towns have canceled traditional bake sales and other fundraisers held by local organizations at voting sites.

- Todd Bookman

Update: 2:15 p.m.

Police called after Portsmouth voter refuses to wear mask

Portsmouth election officials say they're doing their best to ensure safe voting for those who want to cast a ballot in-person. Bill McClure is a selectman in Portsmouth’s Ward 2. He greeted voters upon arrival at the middle school.

“This booth has multiple functions. We are really kind of the first line of saying hello," he said. "If you don’t have a mask, we offer you a mask. And if you choose not to have a mask, then we can arrange for you to vote outside.”

The polling location at Portsmouth High School had some controversy when one man refused to wear a mask. The Portsmouth Herald reports the police were called. The man ultimately was able to cast a ballot.

- Dan Tuohy

Update: 1:30 p.m.

Signs outside the Ward 5 polling place in Manchester
Credit Mary McIntyre | NHPR

Smooth going at Manchester ward  

Producer Mary McIntyre stopped by Manchester's Ward 5, where officials report a higher turnout than normal so far compared to past primaries.

They also say voting has been going smoothly.  

Update: 12:40 p.m.

Absentee ballots surge in Newmarket

At Ward 1 in Newmarket, voting is taking place in the basement of town hall.

According to local officials, 900 absentee ballots were cast in that town for this election, while just 45 were cast in the last state primary.

- Annie Ropeik  

The polls at Ward 1 in Newmarket
Credit Annie Ropeik | NHPR

Update: 11:45 a.m.

A quiet start at Exeter polls

It’s quiet at the polls in Exeter this morning, with just under 400 votes cast by 10 a.m. Poll workers are busy, though, slicing open approximately 1,700 absentee ballots received so far. According to Town Moderator Paul Scafidi, there were just 450 or so absentee ballots received in the 2016 primary.

Inside the voting area, every other booth is blocked off to ensure social distancing, voters can keep their pens, and plexiglass separates poll workers from voters as they check-in. Voters who refuse to wear masks are being directed to a separate parking area, and will use separate voting booths.

- Todd Bookman

A poll worker in Exeter
Credit Todd Bookman for NHPR

Update: 7:00 a.m.  

The Primary Day polls are open

The 2020 state primary election is underway today. New Hampshire's two largest cities, Manchester and Nashua, opened their polls at 6 a.m.

For this fall's elections, any New Hampshire voter may choose to vote in person at the polls, or by absentee ballot.

The Secretary of State's office reported Monday morning that 75,287 absentee ballots had already been returned for the state primary. As NHPR's Casey McDermott reports, "That's at least eight times as many absentee ballots as were cast in the 2016 primary election."

Absentee voting on Primary Day

In-person voting is an option for any New Hampshire voter today. But voters who still want to cast an absentee ballot can do so anytime before the polls close today.

If you already completed an absentee ballot and just need to drop it off, it should be delivered to your local polling place by 5 p.m. You can also have a family member or another state-approved “delivery agent” return your absentee ballot by that deadline.

But if you can’t make it to your polling place by that time, you can show up and request to use accessible absentee voting - which allows you to cast a ballot without going inside a voting booth - any time before your polling place closes.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office sent out a reminder to all local election officials about these deadlines early Tuesday, after NHPR alerted the state to errors about absentee voting on several local websites.

Exeter and Bedford, both with sizeable voting populations, wrongly stated on their websites Tuesday morning that "election officials are not authorized to accept absentee ballots at the polls."

Again, according to state officials, you can still vote absentee at the polls today. The Exeter clerk’s office told NHPR this was an oversight and they’re correcting the mistake. Absentee ballots were still being accepted at Exeter’s polling place, despite what the website said.

NHPR left a message at the Bedford clerk’s office but hasn’t yet heard back. The state says it was in touch with both communities directly Tuesday morning to address the issue. Any voter who runs into problems casting a ballot can call the New Hampshire Attorney General's election hotline at 1-866-868-3703 (1-866-VOTER03) or email electionlaw@doj.nh.gov.

You can also contact the Secretary of State’s election hotline at 1-833-726-0034.

For more information about voting absentee or in-person during COVID-19, check out NHPR’s elections guide here.

   

What you're saying about your voting experience

NHPR wants to hear from you: How is your voting experience during COVID-19? Let us know at elections@nhpr.org

Here are some of the voters we've heard from so far:

I was literally the first one in line this morning and the experience was not great. First went to the normal polling location to find it locked and no sign of anyone election wise. So I used my phone to find that the poll location had moved, frankly a mailer or at least a sign at the old location would seem appropriate. Next I go in and cast my vote and when I asked to go back to undeclared status I was sent to several people, none of which could help me. Then I was told they couldn't find the book (so where exactly is our personal information since they can't find it) and they had me sign a pink sheet of paper which I'm sure won't actually be used to return me to being undeclared because it doesn't follow the state guidelines. All told it was amateur hour.

   - Roy, Concord

Voting was smooth for me today in Hanover New Hampshire once I found the new polling place! Our polling place had been moved but many people did not know that. There were no signs or volunteers at the old polling place redirecting us. Just in the few minutes I was at the old location (Hanover High), there were six other people all looking to vote, all confused about why the high school doors were locked and there were no signs. I felt very safe voting in person and it went smoothly once I found it!

   - Erich Osterberg, Hanover

But here is a concern: There's increasing discussion of, "what if Trump appears to be losing and refuses to accept the result and takes drastic action?" ... I would like to see NO election night predicted results by the media until every last absentee ballot has been counted, nationwide. We can't afford another Florida 2000, or worse.

   - Fred Portnoy, Canterbury

I handed my absentee ballot under the protective plexiglass window directly to the hand of the town clerk. It's a small town. But here is a concern: There's increasing discussion of, "what if Trump appears to be losing and refuses to accept the result and takes drastic action?" ... I would like to see NO election night predicted results by the media until every last absentee ballot has been counted, nationwide. We can't afford another Florida 2000, or worse.

   - Fred Portnoy, Canterbury

Just got done voting with my mother and my eldest daughter (21), in Milford. The election was held at the high school instead of the middle school. We assumed this was for space reasons but it was fine because they're right next door to each other. It has always been a breeze to vote in Milford, and this was no exception. There was a booth behind the registration table that gave us a mat to put down under our ballots and a pen. They did not have the usual curtain doors on the booths but they were blocked off on either side. We were told to throw away the paper mat and we could toss or keep the pen. There was hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit.

   - Melissa Bohner, Milford

In-person voting was very easy here in Amherst. They had lines easily marked out and everyone I saw wore a mask. I like the ballot cover sheet issued to us to mark the ballot and place into the ballot counter. Nice touch.

   - Steve Kimner, Amherst

I voted in Ward 6 in Manchester at 10am today. Besides a little confusion about where I should check in and interacting with a volunteer who was a bit too eager to help, it was seamless. I didn't have to wait in line (a small line had formed by the time I finished), there was plenty of opportunity for social distancing and everyone was wearing a mask. I was in and out in a few minutes.

   - Angela, Manchester

I voted this morning in Dover, Ward 2. We recently got a new polling place so this was only my second time voting in this location. Due to Covid (presumably) they moved the voting location inside of the elementary school from a classroom to the gym/auditorium. It was well marked and seemed highly safe with social distancing practices. I was surprised to take a pen from a box at check-in, use it for voting and then after inserting my ballot into the machine asked where I could leave my pen. The poll worker said I could keep it. I don't know why they didn't just collect the pens and clean them for reuse. Or I would have happily used my own pen if I'd known. That is my only complaint with today's voting process.

   - Susan Dunker, Dover

I hope they put safety measures in place before the November election. The staff were protected but people were exiting and entering through the same doors, there were no distances marked on the floor. Not one official was at the entrance requesting face covering. It was uncomfortable and disappointing. I expected better.

   - Jeanette, Manchester

Easy breezy voting. They had a station set up at the door with masks, sanitizer, etc. Check-in had a plexiglass barrier. Folks needed to be 6 feet apart. Chairs at tables were set up 6 feet apart for voting. Each voting seat had sanitizing wipes to use if you wanted to wipe down the table or chair. Gave me a pencil and asked that I take it with me when I left. Gave me a mat to put down on the table underneath my ballot, which I was also asked to take with me or could toss out at the door. Sanitizer for my use upon exit. In and out in 5 mins.

   - Susan Kelly, Deering

I voted today in Ward 3 Portsmouth. It was super easy. There were no lines. There appeared to be more poll workers than voters. It took 5 minutes. Everyone wore a mask. I can't wait for November!

   - Justin Richardson, Portsmouth

CD2 Republican candidate Steve Negron greets supporters at Ward 3 in Nashua
Credit Courtesy Keith Thompson

I voted in Ward 3 in Nashua. It was a smooth experience, but I can't help but say I was disappointed to see Congressional candidate Steve Negron show up without a mask. He shook hands, and hugged a woman before she headed into the polls. He failed to maintain social distancing while talking to supporters. I'm old enough to remember when leadership meant setting an example.

   - Keith Thompson, Nashua

Just came back. Not many folks there. All wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart. No problems at all. Everybody was very friendly and nice. Selectman and state reps were there. Good, positive experience. But I do wish there were more people voting. Worried they have forgotten about it. Hasn’t received that much attention. Hard to find out about the candidates, especially those lower down on the ballot.

   - Barbara Southard, Bradford

I voted by "mail" for the first time. I received my ballot last Tuesday, dropped it off at the Nashua clerk's office Friday. Easy. No line.

   - David Henderson, Nashua

My wife and I voted at the Windham High School gymnasium a short while ago. We consider the entire experience to be excellent. There was hand sanitizer available when you entered the gym as well when you departed. All of the workers and volunteers wore masks. When you checked in, you were given your ballot, a disposable pad to place the ballot on, and a black inked pen to use and keep. Plastic gloves were available if you wanted them. There were some candidates and their supporters standing in the lawn outside the high school. Most acknowledged you with a “Good Morning.” Some of them wore masks and some didn’t. I don’t believe the Windham Town Clerk could have done anything more to keep everyone safe.

   - Victor Sabalauskas, Windham

We voted by absentee ballot last week. We hand-delivered our ballots to a nice young lady at the walk-up window at Madbury Town Hall. Could not have been easier.

   - Richard & Sandra, Madbury

I live in Ward 4 in Concord, NH. I voted at 8:30 this morning. There weren't any lines and the whole process was pretty seamless. I was in and out in 5 minutes. In terms of covid precautions, I felt very safe. Everyone had a mask, there was a clear flow to foot traffic, I got my own pen to take home, and I sanitized my hands on the way out. It was wonderful!

   - Kelly Buchanan, Concord

I voted absentee and it was easy. I received the information from our town, filled out the ballot request and scanned and emailed the request to our town clerk. I received my actual ballot in 2-3 days in the U.S. Mail. I then filled out the ballot and delivered it back in person to town hall. They have a dropbox so it was safe and easy. I checked the absentee ballot search page to see that my envelope was received by the town on 8/25/20. I also emailed the town clerk to change back to undeclared which also was accomplished. In all, very easy and efficient.

   - Barbara Mellert, Hanover

I voted by Absentee Ballot in Milford, NH. The process was smooth and easy. I mailed my ballot at the Milford PO and it got to the clerk in 2 days. I used the link to the Attorney General to track the ballot and see that it was received. I chose to vote absentee because I am 71 and doing all I can to stay safe and healthy!

   - Cathy Goldwater, Milford

I voted at 6:45 a.m. this morning at Parkside Middle School on the West Side. They did a great job; everyone wearing PPE, hand sanitizer was required on entry, and there were plexi-glass partitions in place. It felt very safe and controlled and left me optimistic for November's election day.

   - Sarah Landry, Manchester