New Hampshire Predicts Record Midterm Voter Turnout

Nov 2, 2018

Bill Gardner, N.H. Secretary of State, predicts an estimated 540,000 voters will turnout for the 2018 midterm election in the Granite State. That would be a record.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire officials are predicting turnout will top half a million voters for the first time in a midterm election Tuesday.

Secretary of State William Gardner made his prediction Friday as he and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald outlined how the state is getting ready for Election Day. Thousands of trained volunteers will be working across the state at more than 300 polling locations, they said, each of which will be inspected Tuesday by attorney general's office staff.

"We are prepared to have an election that is consistent with New Hampshire's tradition of fair elections, well-executed elections and elections that have a high degree of voter turnout," MacDonald said. "We encourage all to come out and vote."

The election comes as the issue of voting rights has spilled over from the Statehouse to the courthouse. A flurry of court rulings in recent weeks focused on a 2017 law that requires new voters to provide more documentation if they register within 30 days of an election. The law will be in effect Tuesday, but penalties for not complying will not be enforced.

A more recent law change ending the state's distinction between domicile and residency doesn't take effect until July. For now, out-of-state college students and others who consider the state their domicile can vote without being subject to residency requirements, such as getting a New Hampshire driver's license or registering their cars.

Supporters of that law argue those who participate in elections should be subject to the same rules as residents, while opponents argued that the bill amounts to a poll tax that will discourage voting. Gardner said the state has to strike a balance between making it easy to vote and maintaining a trustworthy system. He argues New Hampshire has done that.

"There's been a lot of talk about suppressing the vote. There's been a lot of talk about people having to pay poll taxes or people having to register their motor vehicles or get their driver's licenses," Gardner said Friday. "I can say unequivocally that you don't have to worry about paying a poll tax. You don't have to worry about all these other things. It is easy to vote and anyone who shows up at a polling place in this election who is 18 and qualified to vote can vote."

The attorney general's office is setting up a hotline to assist voters and local election officials Tuesday. Most polling places also will be using a new system for voters with disabilities.